By City News Service
Three Los Angeles council members will join gay rights advocates in unfurling a gay pride flag outside City Hall Tuesday to protest anti-gay laws enacted in Russia, including in St. Petersburg, a sister city to Los Angeles.
Councilman Tom LaBonge, who oversees Los Angeles' participation in the international sister city program, will join colleagues Mitch O'Farrell and Mike Bonin in hanging a rainbow flag onto the Sister City Monument "street sign" pointed in the direction of St. Petersburg.
City elected officials plan to urge the federal government to give asylum to victims persecuted in Russia based on their sexual orientation or gender identification, and will ask the City Council to approve a resolution at today's regular council meeting.
"This morning we plan to introduce a resolution calling on the federal government to immediately and aggressively expand asylum programs offered people facing persecution because of sexual orientation or gender identity," Bonin and O'Farrell said in a joint statement.
The resolution, authored by the two councilmen and seconded by LaBonge, will call on President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry "to take action to end the persecution, abuse, and murder of gays around the world, including but not limited to making strong, public and international statements condemning such persecution and exerting all necessary pressure on governments to take action."
Earlier this month as gay bars poured Russian-branded vodka into gutters and groups called on athletes to boycott the Sochi 2014 Olympics in Russia, Los Angeles-area gay rights groups called on Los Angeles to suspend its sister city program with St. Petersburg, where laws banning "propaganda" in support of the gay lifestyle, including public signs and gay pride festivals, first took root.
Bonin and O'Farrell said that instead of cutting ties with St. Petersburg, "we want to use (the relationship) and capitalize on the opportunity to send a message," including one of "support and hope to the LGBT community facing persecution."
"We are also supporting and joining Mayor Garcetti in a campaign to get mayors and elected officials from Russia's sister cities and other American cities to sign a joint statement condemning St. Petersburg for persecution of the LGBT residents," said Bonin and O'Farrell.