Scotland: Petition calls for Glasgow to cut cultural ties with Russian twin city over anti-gay laws

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A petition has been started to have Glasgow City Council break cultural ties with its Russian twin city Rostov on Don, over recently passed anti-gay legislation in Russia.

The petition calls for Lord Provost Sadie Docherty to cut Glasgow’s ties with the Russian city in order to curb the recently reported upsurge of anti-gay attacks in the country.

More than 600 people have signed the online petition so far.

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty confirmed she has sent a letter to Rostov on Don Mayor Michael Chernyshev, expressing concern over the legislation.

In the letter to the mayor of Rostov on Don Ms Docherty wrote: “Our historic twinning agreement was signed in November 1986 and marked the first step in our citizens being able to share academic, cultural, sporting and business links that would help foster a mutual understanding of our cities histories and cultures.

“I greatly value our twinning link and the opportunities it brings. However, recently there has been a lot of media coverage about the Russian government’s legislation in relation to its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities as well as homophobic incidents.

“Because of this, I am writing to express my concerns about the way people in Russia are being treated as a result of this legislation. We would hope that any city that we have a relationship with would uphold people’s human rights and treat them with dignity.”

She added: “I would welcome an open dialogue with you in this respect on how our two great cities might foster progressive policies with our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities. I am looking forward to visiting Rostov in September and to the chance to speak with you personally about this important issue.

“I would also be happy to host a delegation from Rostov here in Glasgow to share more of our good experience of working to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered citizens as a valued part of our city. Glasgow took a strong stand against the UK government’s legislation in the 1990s which discriminated against lesbian and gay people. I am proud that our city has continued to give public support to equal rights.”

The petition on the website calls on Ms Docherty to end Glasgow’s twinning agreement as a result of “a series of attacks on LGBT people and continuous oppression of our community” in Russia following the introduction of the legislation.

The campaign also follows another similar petition in July, calling for Manchester to cut its ties with the twin city St Petersburg.

The Manchester petition, which has so far received over 1,600 signatures, reads: “Instead of twinning the two cities, links should be established between the gay community in Manchester and the gay community in St. Petersburg as a sign of solidarity and that, perhaps, Manchester City Council could help to facilitate this”.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.

Four Dutch tourists shooting a film about gay rights in Russia were arrested last month, the first foreigners to be detained under the new law.

The law has so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.