To: Blondell Reynolds Brown, Philadelphia City Council, At-Large, W. Wilson Goode, Jr., Philadelphia City Council, At-Large, Bill Green, Philadelphia City Council, At-Large, William K. Greenlee, Philadelphia City Council, At-Large, David Oh,...

Philadelphia City Council: Sever your "sister city" relationship with anti-gay Nizhny Novgorod

The recent anti-gay laws and violence throughout Russia are appalling. Philadelphia can and should send a message: We value and cherish our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents and will not tolerate discrimination against our LGBT brothers and sisters by a sister city. Please immediately pass a resolution severing the "sister city" relationship between Philadelphia and Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

Why is this important?

Russia's elected leaders are out of control -- and we can't stand for it any longer. First came a ban on the adoption of Russian-born children not only to gay couples but also to any couple or single parent living in any country where marriage equality exists. Then came a law allowing police officers to arrest tourists and foreign nationals they suspect of being homosexual, lesbian or “pro-gay” and detain them for up to 14 days. And then the "gay propaganda" law, making any parent who tells their child that being gay is okay, any Pride parade organizer, any health official distributing information regarding safe sex between same-sex partners, even a judge or lawyer, can be subject to arrest or fine. Already people are being arrested, beaten, intimidated and more. One lawmaker even vowed that foreign nationals attending the 2014 Sochi Olympics would be subject to this.

The city of Philadelphia has a “Sister City” relationship with Nizhny Novgorod, the fifth largest city in Russia. The Nizhny Novgorod Assembly passed a "gay propaganda" law, legalizing it in 2012. Philadelphia City Council failed to take action then, and Russia took the law nationwide recently. It is time for action now.

If we build enough pressure in advance of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Russia will be forced to act. Sign with me to tell the Philadelphia City Council: sever your sister city relationship with Nizhny Novgorod.