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Chicago's Sister Cities should cut ties with Moscow
by Tracy Baim, Windy City Times

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The anti-gay law in Russia that bans gay "propaganda" has been condemned internationally by a wide range of people and institutions, including the U.S. State Department. The crackdown is even leading for calls to either boycott the Olympics in Russia (the Winter Olympics are in Sochi in 2014), or have some kind of visible LGBTQ support at the games.

The Chicago Sister Cities International program includes Moscow among its 28 partner cities. It is time for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Sister Cities International group to condemn the Russian law, and either suspend or cancel its Sister Cities relationship with Moscow.

Chicago Sister Cities International is now part of World Business Chicago, a non-profit with deep government connections. The honorary chairman of Sister Cities International is President Barack Obama. The honorary chairman of Chicago Sister Cities is Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel is also the chairman of World Business Chicago.

The entire Sister Cities International organization should be involved in putting pressure on sister cities in Russia to work against this anti-gay law.

As the International Business Times noted, "RUSA LGBT, a Russian-speaking American association for members of the gay community, has called for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics. It said gay athletes and spectators would not be safe in Russia after a law passed last month in Russia's Parliament and signed earlier this week by President Vladimir Putin banned 'propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations' and established steep fines for anyone equating the value of same-sex relationships with those between individuals of the opposite sex. Foreigners charged with such 'propaganda' could be subject to arrest, 15 days in jail, deportation and fines up to $3,000."

Between the Lines reports that a Lansing, Mich., councilmember is questioning his city's relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia: "Joe Mirabella, communications director for the international LGBT equality organization All Out, says Lansing is the first city in the nation to raise concerns about its relationships with a Russian city over LGBT abuses. Last week Reykjavik, Iceland severed its partnership with the city of Moscow over the national antigay law."

The 8th Annual Chicago Sister Cities International Festival is in Daley Plaza Aug. 5-9. It would be very appropriate to have the Sister Cities program announce before that event any actions they will take in response to this draconian Russian law.

Contact World Business Chicago: 312-553-0500 or email .

Contact Chicago Sister Cities: 312-553-4927 and . You can Tweet them here: @ChiSisterCities .

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