Mayors in Florida sister cities criticize intolerance in Russia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin. - PHOTO: Wikicommons

Three Florida mayors in Sister city relationships with Russian cities criticized Russian intolerance in a Jan. 30 letter to President Vladimir Putin.

The letter was sent to Putin as he and his nation prepare to host the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman urged the Russian government to repeal the nation’s controversial “anti-gay” law, which criminalizes telling young people that homosexuality is normal.

The mayors wrote, “As mayors of Florida cities with Russian sister city counterparts, we are writing to address a matter of great importance that affects the lives of millions of Americans and Russians alike. In June 2013, you signed into law a measure that enforces a ban upon homosexual ‘propaganda’ in Russia. Thus, it appears that citizens and visitors to Russian that identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered (LGBT) will be subject to discrimination, fines, and potential incarceration. This law represents a disconcerting violation of basic human and civil rights and does not reflect the ideals or beliefs of our citizens, nor do we believe that it reflects the values of the citizens of our Russian sister city counterparts.”

The letter earned the mayors praise from Equality Florida, the statewide LGBT civil rights group, which said, “Last year Equality Florida wrote a letter to all Florida cities that have partnerships with Russian cities, calling on elected leaders to speak up in the face of Russia’s persecution and violence against the LGBT community. We are pleased to see strong mayors in our state speak out and hope it will inspire others across the country to take action as well.”

Equality Florida, meanwhile, continues to encourage Sunshine State lawmakers to enact protections for LGBT citizens and is the plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment.