Melbourne to finally decide on St Petersburg relationship in 2014.
The decision concerning the sister-city relationship between Melbourne and Russia’s St Petersburg has been deferred following a vote at this week’s council meeting.
At the meeting council was to decide whether to end the relationship with St Petersburg over the Russian city’s anti-gay laws. Instead councillors voted to defer the decision to the next meeting on February 25, 2014, after concerns were raised over diplomatic consequences of suspending the relationship.
The council will now take advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before making a decision.
Councillor Cathy Oke, who originally brought the matter to council said that she had intended to vote to end the relationship at the meeting but now supported the deferment.
“I continue to be concerned about the treatment of gay, lesbian and queer community in St Petersburg,” Oke said.
“And the anti-gay laws are disgusting and we should not in any way consider this deferment as a condoning of those laws.
Councillor Stephen Mayne said there was also broader deterioration around civil liberties and democratic principals in Russia and there was “a strategic element into the symbolism” in the council’s action.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle added that 2014 would make the 25th anniversary of Melbourne’s sister-city relationship with St Petersburg and engagement or disengagement would be amplified by that notable milestone.