By Melanie Nathan, August 26, 2013.
Due to the passage of extreme anti-gay legislation and the alarming increase in anti-gay violence in Russia, Equality Florida has called upon all Florida cities to suspend their Sister/Friendship City relationships with Russian cities. Letters have been sent to the mayors of Gainesville, Orlando, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Tallahassee.
“One important goal of the Sister City relationship is to encourage travel and cultural exchange amongst the citizens of our cities,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida. “The anti-gay laws and lawless violence now being encouraged in Russia negate this promise, not only for Florida’s LGBT citizens, but also for all who believe in equality, diversity and tolerance.”
Most recently the “gay propaganda” law was passed, stating that said anyone organizing a Pride parade, any health official distributing information regarding safe sex between same-sex partners, or anyone talking to a child under the age of 18 about anything LGBT-related can be subject to arrest or fine.
Equality Florida has posted a petition at http://www.eqfl.org/petition/russia, calling upon all who support equality to add their names and show support for this call to action.
“By continuing Sister/Friendship City relationships with Russian cities, we are turning a blind eye to the atrocities that are occurring in Russia,” added Smith. “It is time to take action, and in doing so, to let the Russian government know that their treatment of the LGBT community is unacceptable.”
The cities of Gainesville, St Petersburg and Tallahassee have responded to Equality Florida’s call to action by stating that they are currently reviewing the request.
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Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. www.eqfl.org