Manchester’s Lord Mayor and Deputy Leader, currently in St Petersburg, will meet the city’s governor to urge him not to sign an anti-gay bill into law.
The Manchester delegation is in Russia to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the two cities being twinned.
But the trip has coincided with the passage of a bill which would fine the promotion of gay, bi or trans identities among minors and which threatens to silence the gay and trans community in the eyes of many around the world.
The British officials will meet LGBT groups and St Petersburg’s Governor Poltavchenko, whom they will urge not to sign the bill into law.
Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said it was an “honour” to be twinned with St Petersburg and “the friendship has stood the test of time”.
She said: “When you have been friends for so long – whether it be a person or a city – it gives you the right to point out when your friend is doing something wrong. This bill is simply wrong.
“It is bad for LGBT people living in the city, and it is bad for St Petersburg’s reputation across the globe. This trip gives us the opportunity to make this point clearly at the highest level in St Petersburg – before it is too late. We will urge the governor to veto this ill-conceived piece of legislation.
Saying Manchester was one of the most “tolerant and open” cities in the world, she added the delegation was “rightly proud of our gay rights record and hope the governor will listen to us and reject this dreadful piece of legislation.
“Our message is simple – equality is not something anyone should fear.
“During this visit we will also meet with LGBT leaders in the city, presenting a letter of solidarity from the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and giving them the strong message that the people of Manchester – gay and straight – stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation’s Chief Executive Paul Martin OBE said: “The Lesbian & Gay Foundation would like to offer our solidarity with all LGB&T people in St.Petersburg who are struggling with the situation they find themselves in.
“We share the concerns of our LGBT friends in St.Petersburg as in our own recent history we have faced similar experiences where we have been denied our basic human rights, our voices have not been heard and our young people have not had positive role models to help them realise their full potential.
“However we are fortunate to be supported by our own city council who we know share the interests of LGB&T residents in St. Petersburg and will do whatever they can to support their progress in challenging the prejudice and injustice that they currently face. It is important for all of us that they succeed.”