Philadelphia urged to break with Russian ‘sister city’ over gay rights

 Gay rights activists hold a banner reading

Gay rights activists hold a banner reading "Homophobia — the religion of bullies" during a protest against Russian anti-gay laws in Moscow's Red Square. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman, file)

Pennsylvania advocacy organization Keystone Progress wants Philadelphia to sever its “sister city” relationship with the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.

At issue in the symbolic affiliation between the two cities: the law against “homosexual propaganda” passed by the Russian city in 2012.

Philadelphia resident Kim Bravo works just a few blocks away from Sister Cities park. She signed the organization’s online petition to City Council.

“This is very much a human rights issue, and I’m a Philadelphian. I’m born and bred here,” Bravo said. “And I’m very proud of my city and it would mean a lot to me if we could send this message.”

Philadelphia honors its seven sister cities with landmarks and cultural events.

Nizhny Novgorod is Russia’s fifth-largest city and one of the early cities in Russia to adopt legislation banning public displays of homosexuality.

Russia’s anti-gay laws have made national headlines in advance of the winter Olympics in Sochi. They were criticized by President Obama and cited as one of the reasons the president canceled a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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