Venice, Italy, is seeking to break off cultural relations with St. Petersburg because of the Russian city’s legislation curbing gay rights.
The city council invoked Venice’s "history, international prestige and conscience" in a motion unanimously approved this week asking the city administration to refrain from cultural exchanges as long as anti-gay laws are in place.
The motion states, "The city of Venice cannot ignore what is happening in the institutions” and asked officials to communicate the reason for the unilateral action.
The two cultural jewels, Venice and St. Petersburg signed an agreement in 2006 to pursue cultural and other exchanges.
St. Petersburg is one of a number of Russian cities that have passed laws banning what they call “homosexual propaganda.” The Kremlin also is pushing such a law.
Earlier this week, the Obama administration said it was pulling out of a civil society dialogue with Russia to protest the Kremlin's crackdown on dissent and new laws against nongovernmental organizations. It also harshly criticized Russia's parliament for advancing the legislation against "homosexual propaganda."