Against the backdrop of increasing pressure from angry LGBT and human rights activists around the world to move or boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over that country’s harsh “gay propaganda” law, the two newly elected gay members of the Los Angeles City Council introduced a resolution Friday calling on the federal government to aggressively expand America’s asylum programs to help persecuted LGBT people in Russia.
This resolution supplants the previous resolution offered last February by then-Councilmember Bill Rosendahl to sever or suspend L.A.’s 'sister city' ties with homophobic St. Petersburg, where the anti-gay law originated. The Rosendahl Resolution was apparently killed by Councilmember Tom LaBonge, a major advocate of Sister Cities International. Then City Councilmember (now mayor) Eric Garcetti and Rep. Adam Schiff supported severing sister city ties. Gay Russia expert John Tedstrom said:
“Certainly the White House and the State Department have critical official roles. But I'd also advocate an open and honest dialogue among the relevant people at local levels—the mayor, the city council and their counterparts. Maintaining the relationship while not saying anything is tantamount to an implicit endorsement of what’s going on. Maintaining the relationship while not saying anything is tantamount to an implicit endorsement of what’s going on. If part of the sister city agenda is to share American values, we better start doing some sharing. And if Angelenos in the end feel that they just can’t accept the crackdown on Russia's LGBT community anymore, then the elected officials of Los Angeles ought to take the right steps.”