Friday, August 16, 2013

Should St. Petersburg Dump St. Petersburg?

The decision by the Putin Government in Russia to ban gays has created a global fire storm. For a good quick overview check the Huffington Post: Russian Gay Rights and be sure to scroll down through the Posts.
Chris O'Donnell also has a good article in the St. Petersburg Tribune:  St. Pete asked to sever ties with Russian counterpart over antigay laws.
The question coming up in many US cities that have sister  or friendship relationships with Russian Cities is: what stance should they take?  On the surface a pretty easy question, but in reality a bit more difficult than it first appears.
St. Petersburg  has had a friendship relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia for about a decade.
The question then becomes should the City officially end its friendship status with St. Petersburg Russia over the gay rights issue?
Given the City's position on LGBT equality for employees, being the host of the largest Gay Pride festival in the Southeast and the strong  likelihood of the current City election producing a City Council that has three gay members, perhaps making ST. Pete one of the Gayest Cities in Florida if not the southeast, it seems a bit hypocritical to maintain a promotional relationship with a City in Russia where none of those opportunities exist.   
If enough US Cities take a stand it could well affect tourism and trade to level significant enough to get the Russian Government's attention.
Some might say this is much adieu about nothing, since decisions like this have little international impact, but it will say a lot about what the City really stands for.
Steve Kornell will likely bring this issue up to City Council before the election process plays itself out.  It will be interesting to see how the rest of City Council and the Mayor react.
What do you think? Should St. Petersburg dump St. Petersburg, Russia?
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