Political leaders from Manchester, a UK city that is twinned with St. Petersburg and with whom it has a long standing history of good relations, are using their position to try and lobby the St. Petersburg administration to drop its anti-gay censorship law that was recently approved by the region’s legislative assembly.
Fulfilling a long standing engagement, representatives from Manchester City Council are meeting with the Governor of St.Petersburg this week to urge him to veto the offending Bill.
Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Our friendship with St Petersburg is one that has lasted 50 years, and we consider it an honour to have such a close and enduring relationship with Russia’s second city.
Our ties with the people of St Petersburg are strong and the friendship has stood the test of time. When you have been friends for so long – whether it be a person or a city – it gives you the right to point out when your friend is doing something wrong.
This bill is simply wrong. It is bad for LGBT people living in the city, and it is bad for St Petersburg’s reputation across the globe. This trip gives us the opportunity to make this point clearly at the highest level in St Petersburg – before it is too late. We will urge the governor to veto this ill-conceived piece of legislation.
Manchester has a deserved reputation as one of the most tolerant and open cities in the world. That has done our city nothing but good. It encourages tourism and investment; it means that people come to Manchester to make our city their home. It aids cohesion and brings all of our communities closer together. We’re rightly proud of our gay rights record and hope the governor will listen to us and reject this dreadful piece of legislation.
Our message is simple – equality is not something anyone should fear.”
The St. Petersburg city parliament passed the censorship bill last month with 29 deputies voting in favor, five voting against the bill, and one abstaining (15 deputies did not vote).
The St Petersburg law is designed to prevent the “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism”. The legislation includes a ban on LGBT-positive messages in public and would serve to virtually ban gay pride events.
For breaking this law there is a fine of 5,000 rubles ($170) for individuals, and for officials 50,000 rubles ($1,725). The fine for legal entities is 500,000 rubles ($17,250).
LGBT rights organizations have condemned the move, while the EU previously issued a resolution “strongly” condemning Russia for its various local laws that have targeted LGBTs.