When we at the ACLU of Southern California first heard about the anti-gay laws being used to oppress the LGBT community in Russia, we were particularly troubled to learn that the intent behind the law is to prevent LGBTQ youth there from hearing positive information about being LGBTQ. We know firsthand from working with LGBTQ youth around California how affirming it is for them to see positive images of themselves and to hear messages like “It Gets Better.”
And when we discovered that Los Angeles is the only U.S. city with a sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, we knew our community had a unique role to play in the advocacy around this issue.
Los Angeles's sister city relationship with St. Petersburg compels us to speak out to let all Angelenos--particularly the LGBTQ community--know that the City of Angels is a model city and a leader in advancing and protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
ACLU SoCal is encouraged that city leaders responded to our request for the City of Los Angeles to speak up to take a stance against the anti-gay laws the LGBTQ community in St. Petersburg is being forced to live under.
By attaching a rainbow flag to the St. Petersburg sign on the Sister City Monument, we are sending a clear message that we won’t tolerate such anti-gay conduct by one of our siblings.
James Gilliam is Deputy Executive Director at the ACLU of Southern California