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Chapel Hill may drop Russian sister city over gay rights issues

Posted August 22, 2013

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— Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Town Councilman Lee Storrow said Thursday that they plan to petition the council to end Chapel Hill's sister city relationship with a city in Russia over that country's restrictions on gay rights.

Kleinschmidt and Storrow, who are both openly gay, said they find the impact of Russia's new law banning “homosexual propaganda” to be "heartbreaking."

"Innocent individuals and families face persecution, violence and detainment for expressing themselves openly and non-violently in the public square," they said in a statement. "These laws are deplorable and do nothing but create hardship, suffering and, in some cases, death for innocent people."

Chapel Hill has had a sister city relationship with Saratov, Russia, for years, but Kleinschmidt and Storrow said the cities haven't even communicated in some time. They said there's no reason to continue the relationship.

"We hope soon Russian society – as well as all societies foreign and domestic – will recognize that LGBT people deserve equal protection and freedom under the law," they said. "Until Russian society is able to come to this basic truth, we see no ability to move forward in a productive sister city relationship with a Russian city or town."

100 Comments

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  • patriottim Aug 27, 2013

    Glad to see Chapel Hill is taking care of the really important matters. It's not like they need to worry about traffic down the Franklin/Rosemary corridor, or the aggressive panhandlers on Franklin St., or better crowd control during Halloween on Franklin, or anything like that...

  • patriottim Aug 27, 2013

    Gays already have marriage equality. They can marry the exact same set of people as straights can.

  • Chplhill Aug 23, 2013

    The town would be MUCH better off to work on some panhandling restrictions on Franklin Street, which do nohthing but take away from downtown business. I called the street on a crowd who were sitting in an upper end restaurant, when I realized the women were swapping off a toddler and going outside to panhandle with it between rounds.

  • findoutthefacts Aug 23, 2013

    I have a question for these two outspoken councilmen. If there were two religious councilpersons who wanted to end their relationship with this sister-city because Russia doesnt treat religious people in russia equally, would these same two outspoken councilmen agree with that? I doubt it....

  • dwntwnboy2 Aug 23, 2013

    "So marriage equality trumps the bible?"- when it comes to the laws that govern us all....yes, marriage equality does trump the bible, especially for those whom the bible has zero meaning other than it's just another book on the shelf. Marriage laws cover EVERYONE, not just those who believe in one religion or another or even none at all.

  • GravyPig Aug 22, 2013

    "While you may not agree with them, are you also saying you are OK with the human rights abuses that are happening since Russia made it illegal to be gay? GravyPig

    Its illegal in a lot of middle eastern countries too but libs never seem to say much about that"

    I'm sure you follow the LGBT community closely and the things they fight for, right? It's also illegal in Africa, but I'm sure you already knew that since you spend so much time fighting for LGBT equality.

  • mfarmer1 Aug 22, 2013

    steveital, really? you show your ignorance.

  • steveital Aug 22, 2013

    ???????????????????When will religious folks realize their religion means as much in other people's lives as marriage equality does in theirs.....NOTHING! Believe what you want, but why the constant objection to how others live their lives???????????????

    ??? So marriage equality trumps the bible???

  • dwntwnboy2 Aug 22, 2013

    When will religious folks realize their religion means as much in other people's lives as marriage equality does in theirs.....NOTHING! Believe what you want, but why the constant objection to how others live their lives?

  • dmccall Aug 22, 2013

    Yawn.

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