An online petition is urging the City of Oakland to end a sister city relationship with its Russian counterpart in protest of the country’s anti-gay laws.
The petition located at MoveOn.org is nearing its 1,000 signature goal as of Monday afternoon and hopes to send a message by asking the City Council to pass a resolution suspending its relationship with Nakhodka, Russia.
“We can and should send a message: we value and cherish our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents and will not tolerate discrimination against our LGBT brothers and sisters by a sister city,” says the petition posted by an Oakland resident.
The Russian Parliament in June passed legislation banning the distribution of gay “propaganda”, gay adoptions and pride events in the country. Civil rights groups and President Barack Obama have criticized the law, while some have urged countries to boycott the coming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The California Legislature may also weigh in on the controversial law. A resolution authored by State Sen. Mark Leno would urge the state’s public retirement systems not to invest in the future with Russia and has gained the support of Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
Nakhodka is an Eastern Russia town near the port city of Vladivostok. Oakland’s sister city relationship began in 1975. Oakland is also linked to Dalian, China; Da Nang, Vietnam, Fukuoka, Japan; Funchal, Portugal; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Agadir, Morocco; Santiago de Cuba, Cuba; and Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.
Oakland is not the only East Bay city with a Russian sister city. Berkeley has a cultural exchange with Ulan-Ude, which boast the largest bust of Vladimir Lenin in the world. Union City has a partnership with a section of Moscow and San Jose is linked with St. Petersburg, Russia.