Councilman pushes for end to Philly’s relationship with anti-LGBT Russian city

     Gay rights activist Natalia Tsybalova, holds a rainbow flag during a picket in downtown St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

    Gay rights activist Natalia Tsybalova, holds a rainbow flag during a picket in downtown St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

    A Philadelphia councilman wants to sever ties with the Russian city that introduced a ban on “homosexual propaganda.”

    Nizhny Novgorod, the fifth-largest city in Russia, is one of Philadelphia’s seven sister cities and three partnership cities throughout the world.

    But Councilman-at-large Jim Kenney says he wants the relationship terminated because of the Russian city’s treatment of the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community.

    “It was one of the first cities to adopt these restrictive and repressive rules against LGBT citizens,” Kenney said. “I don’t think the City of Philadelphia, the cradle of democracy and one of the major cities for the initiation of the LGBT rights movement, should be associated in any way with a city that is diametrically opposed to that view.”

    The Nutter administration has another view, according to Mayor Michael Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald.

    “Severing the tie lets them off the hook,” McDonald said Tuesday. “In no way is the Nutter administration remaining silent. “We are squarely saying what they have done there is wrong and, as a sister city, you should listen to us and change your ways.”

    If the mayor doesn’t end the ceremonial and cultural relationship, Kenney said he plans to introduce a resolution in council asking the mayor to change his mind.

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