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Lansing, Mich., votes to end ‘sister city’ relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

Tuesday, August 13, 2013
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LANSING, Mich. — The city council in Lansing, Mich., on Monday voted unanimously to adopt a resolution calling for an end to its “sister cities” relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia, over country’s anti-gay “propaganda” law.

Lansing, Mich.

“This is an important issue at this time,” said Councilwoman Jody Washington, the architect of the resolution. It’s “an emotional shot in the arm to our LGBT (colleagues) in St. Petersburg.”

Her resolution says “the Lansing City Council strongly condemns the widespread abuses of human rights” in Russia and calls for removal of all mentions of St. Petersburg from Lansing’s website and signage, as well as an annual report “summarizing current human rights issues and challenges in each of Lansing’s sister cities,” reported MLive.com.

Washington noted St. Petersburg had already been removed from the city’s website, but its name remains on multiple signs placed along roadways welcoming motorists to Lansing.

According to the Lansing Regional Sister Cities Commission, the city’s relationship with one district of St. Petersburg formally began in 1994 with a youth exchange program but fell dormant after political and geographic districts of St. Petersburg were changed several years ago.

The new Russian law, signed by President Vladimir Putin on June 29, is aimed at “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” It imposes fines for organizations, plus stiffer penalties for propaganda online or in the media.

St. Petersburg was one of several cities to pass similar laws at local level prior to enactment of the federal law.

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