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Manchester Council calls on Russia’s St Petersburg to drop anti-gay laws

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  1. I would urge Manchester City Council to cut all ties St Petersburg.

    I would also urge any U.K town or city to do the same.

  2. Robert in S. Kensington 2 Aug 2013, 12:11pm

    I strongly urge our Government to issue a protest. Nick Clegg’s words weren’t enough, the only MP so far to have spoken.

  3. Thing is, though, this may be the right approach. If you cut all ties you also lose any chance for pressure, influence and conversation.

    If anything, queer Russians shouldn’t get completely isolated.

    Not sure what is best but if the approach as suggested in the article is sincere it may be a good strategy. Remains absurd though human rights require a strategy…

    1. I completely agree. I have some connection, through my job, with the ties between Manchester and St. Petersburg and I know just how strong these ties are. They go back a long way and are so strong that we are in a great position to encourage and influence Russia away from the current legislation.

      I completely understand why people want to cut ties but i don’t think this would work. If we cut ties, the Russian government won’t care, they’ll just keep running the country how they want to. I think that’s what a lot of people don’t seem to understand.

      Plus, the Councillor who wrote the letter has made amazing progress in creating friendship ties, as part of the broader friendship ties, between the LGBT communities in Manchester and St. Petersburg. If we were to sever ties then these would also be lost and I don’t believe abandoning the LGBT community in St. Petersburg is the way forward!

      1. Thank you for engaging in the debate with everyone.

        To me, this whole notion of severing ties (as well as a vodka boycott) appears largely based on emotion. I get it, completely.

        I am a winter freak and always had the dream to get married in St. Petersburg. Strolling down the Hermitage and have a gorgeous boyfriend pop the question and then return half a year later and in the snow with a coach and horses… You get the idea. Well, that dream is definitely crushed.

        Anyway, that makes it sort of personal, though I have no Russian connection at all. But I am outraged over the situation. I’ve lived in fear (lovely father I have) and experienced violence several times. I know what it is. And no one deserves it.

        But we should look at what may work, act rational rather than emotional. I know little of Manchester’s politics, so I can’t judge the sincerity but I just hope it’s there. It appears better at least than cutting ties.

        1. I have no Russian connection either but my job involves Russian culture and the links with St. Petersburg. I’m also passionate about LGBT rights in the church. So as you can imagine I’m quite passionate about the current issue in Russia!

          I felt so saddened when I read your post. It’s stories like yours that makes me so angry with the situation the LGBT community is in in so many societies. I’m sorry that because of people’s opinions you can’t have something that you desire, and I’m sorry that you’ve had to live in fear and experienced violence. That is never ok and can never be justified.

          There are real sincere people working in Manchester that are trying their best to do the right thing. I guess the problem is that the right thing is not always obvious. You can’t always know whether something is right until you’ve done it! All I know is that fighting hate with love is always the better option.

          If you ever want to talk please feel free to email me – laura_km41@hotmail.com

  4. Well I am sure they will drop the law now that Manchester council has spoken!!!!!!

    No one in power appears to give a damn and just come out with these wishy washy statements, no action.

    1. I know the people who work with the friendship tie between Manchester and St Petersburg and they do give a damn. They want to see these laws in Russia revoked. They’re trying to do their best and taking it one step at a time. Give them a break – this letter is just the first stage and them trying to do things in a peaceful way.

      If we severed ties with the Russian government they wouldn’t care, they’d just get on with running the country in the way they want to. As the people that work closely with the friendship tie know Russians a lot more than many of the people on this page, they know what to do to try and encourage the government to make changes. As someone who knows Russian culture/character deeply, I know that severing the ties would not work, at least at first. Let us get on with working with the people who we have good relationships with in Russia and see if we can make a change. If it doesn’t work, obviously we’ll have to do something else.

    2. (ran out of space…)

      Also, equally important, let’s support the ties we have between the LGBT community in Manchester and St. Petersburg. If we cut ties with the city, we would also cut ties with them. I would hate to abandon them right now.

  5. The bigots in Russia can now point to Manchester’s refusal to cut ties – and say that of course Manchester must be in agreement with its new anti-gay laws. That’s how that proto-fascist scapegoating mentality of these people works.

    You can be sure that if they “keep the dialogue channels open” it will be glossed over by the bigots and not reported to everyone else. And there will be lots of handwringing all round.

    Appeasing tyranny is ALWAYS a losing game.

  6. And a collective could-care-less giggle sweeps through Russia.

    1. Many Russians, in private (because of fear), do not support the new laws against the LGBT community. I think they care that Manchester still supports them.

  7. This decision clearly shows they couldn’t care less about the russian anti-gay laws and homophobic propaganda.
    Shame on you, Sue Murphy, and on everybody else who is responsible for the lack of action.

    1. Shame on you for being so ignorant. Please read my above comments.

      1. You are so naïve and cluless.
        In case you hadn’t noticed, the peaceful aporoach HAS FAILED! The russian government received numerous complaints regarding the recent laws but they do NOT care. Isolating, boycoting, and severing ties is the ONLY thing that can force them to reconsider and the only language they understand.

        1. You’re right, they don’t care. They wouldn’t care if we severed ties, they would just keep on running the country how they want. Cutting ties would not achieve anything. The only thing we can do, as a first step, is keep the ties going and try to encourage change.

          I think you and everyone else should look to what the LGBT community here in Manchester, which has links with the LGBT community in St. Petersburg, has to say. Both fully support us keeping the friendship going and I would say they know more about this than any of us. I would never ever support something that leaves an LGBT community isolated.

          If you want to see a quote from the LGBT community in St. Petersburg see my comment below.

          1. How awful do the Russian authorities have to get before you stop cringing and stand up to them? Like the IOC who waved their “piece of paper” – an assurance that LGBT athletes attending Sochi would be treated differently. How long did that last before the Sports Minister, and Milnov and the Duma all contradicted it.

            Of course we want to support the LGBT people in St Petersburg and all over Russia – but craven submission and handwringing and sending the Russians a letter telling them they are being very naughty, isn’t going to do it.

  8. Godric Godricson 2 Aug 2013, 2:17pm

    Lack of commentary in this area is clear and obvious. Nick Clegg is an exception and “The Guardian” Newspaper covered the changes in the law. I don’t believe that boycotts would support LGBTI people in the Russian federation. If the eyes of the world can’t see what’s happening…it could get much worse. It would be easy to throw stones from the European Union but we don’t have to live in Russia.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/29/russian-police-gay-rights?CMP=twt_fd

  9. What’s the incentive; or else… what?

  10. Gay Star News spoke to Polina Andrianova, St Petersburg LGBT organization Coming Out, who supported Manchester’s approach.

    ‘Not only LGBT citizens are harmed by this law, which doesn’t seem to concern our government, but every citizen of St Petersburg and the city itself is going to feel its effects – economical, cultural, social.

    ‘I am happy to see St Petersburg’s sister-cities are using their relationship to make that point, as did Manchester.

    ‘I would not want to see St Petersburg cut off from the rest of the world, isolated and boycotted. Instead, I would like to see the rest of the world raise these issues with our politicians and society time and time again, making it visible, speaking out for LGBT rights loudly, through all possible channels – sister-city relationships, official visits, unofficial phone calls, and, of course, the Olympics in Sochi.’

  11. Trying to boycott the Sochi Olympics would be a mistake. It wont succeed and after the event the Russians can simply point to its failure and say that our cause is also failed. Much more effective will be displays of rainbow flags and positive comments and other acts of disobedience at the games by LGBT/ally participants from all over the world. What propagandising tyrants fear most is being embarrassed in public in front of their people.

    However municipal twinning is a clear statement of partnership and shared values and aspirations. Does Manchester really share the St Petersburg values (voted for by local govt) and wish the rest of the world to see that?

    Cutting official twinning would not close all the channels or leave the LGBT groups isolated. There is still much that can be done.

    Manchester City Council are the Neville Chamberlains of today.

    1. For some reason I couldn’t reply to your comment above. I agree with you about the Olympics and wish the IOC had done more. That was a weak move, it was too “in the middle”, if you know what I mean. Perhaps pulling the games out of Russia would’ve been a good move, but I don’t know. It certainly goes against human rights, which the IOC are supposed to uphold.

      I also agree that boycotting won’t work. I think your above idea is the best idea, let’s show them just how many athletes, couches, spectators, etc, support the LGBT community.

      Twinning doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with everything. Of course it means that to a certain extent you’re similar. Perfect example of that is that we’ve been friends since 1962, when are ideologies were completely different.

  12. Commander Thor 3 Aug 2013, 10:47am

    Laura – two words: Neville Chamberlain.

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