CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mayor Patsy Kinsey is expected to discuss the anti-LGBT situation in Russia and Charlotte’s Russian sister city, Voronezh today, when she meets with local and international human rights advocates and representatives from the U.S. State Department.
Kinsey and City Council had been petitioned by advocates with the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) to sever their ties with Voronezh, where 14 gay rights activists were attacked during a peaceful demonstration in January. In June, Russia’s parliament unanimously passed an anti-propaganda law effectively silencing discussion of LGBT issues and equality.
The growing anti-LGBT violence in Russia was the basis of qnotes‘ Aug. 16-29 print edition cover story. You can read it here.
The issue was discussed briefly at Council’s Aug. 26 meeting. There, MeckPAC Chair Scott Bishop related the situation in Russia and Voronezh. James Kemper, chair of the Charlotte-Voronezh sister city committee, also urged Council members not to sever their ties.
As she stated in an earlier statement, Kinsey said Monday that the city would not sever ties.
“After weeks of planning, this Thursday, I look forward to hosting a private meeting with leaders from MeckPAC, Human Rights Watch, the U.S. State Department, Sister Cities International and Charlotte’s Sister City Committee to discuss diplomatic measures that should be pursued for more cultural understanding between Charlotte and Voronezh,” Kinsey said at the meeting. “I believe severing our ties with Voronezh would do nothing to help its LGBT community. On the contrary, it would deprive us of the best means we have to improve the situation. My hope is that this dialogue will increase cultural and humanitarian understanding between our two international cities.”
MeckPAC has been supportive of Kinsey’s efforts at dialogue and has since softened its stance on severing ties, despite receiving hundreds of signers on its petition.
“It’s achieved its purpose because it has raised awareness with city leaders about what is going on over there and action has taken place as a result,” Bishop said in an earlier interview.