Manchester City Council has written a letter to St Petersburg asking them to reconsider legislation that restricts the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
The letter makes clear that equality, inclusivity and tolerance are essential for strong communities where people want to live, work and enjoy their leisure time – and diversity should be celebrated as an enrichment of a city.
Manchester has shared a friendship tie with the Russian city for over 50 years, and in the spirit of this friendship the city council has implored St Petersburg to take example of Manchester’s reputation as one of the world’s most open and tolerant cities.
The letter points out the benefits that Manchester has experienced through its history of tolerance – including continued population growth and reputation as a leading tourist destination, with such world class events as the upcoming Manchester Pride LGBT festival – and St Petersburg is urged to consider whether the legislation will prove detrimental to their economic future.
Manchester considers the legislation an infringement of fundamental human rights and the letter warns that the relationship the cities have long enjoyed could be damaged – such is the strong feeling against St Petersburg’s anti-LGBT stance.
Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "Our friendship with St Petersburg has lasted over 50 years and during that time we have made strong and lasting connections with its people. We have strong links with LGBT organisations in Russia, listening to their needs and offering our support.
"We currently are not severing those ties - but want to use our friendship as a powerful way to promote the message that equality is not something to be feared. We made the point at the highest level in St Petersburg that passing the anti-gay law would be wrong and we urged the governor to veto this ill-conceived piece of legislation.
"I will be writing to him again to express our concerns, and to say that we expect people's human rights to be protected and respected. We remain resolute in our conviction and our stance on supporting gay rights."