Melbourne to stay sister-city with St Petersburg
Melbourne City Council has voted not to end its 25 year sister-city relationship with the Russian city of St Petersburg.
Following St Petersburg’s enacting of ‘gay propaganda laws’ in 2012 and similar national laws introduced in 2013 calls to end the relationship in protest were made, backed by a petition containing over 13,000 signatures and over 400 written submissions.
Having reserved any decision until advice could be made from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Council said that advice was that ending the relationship was not the right option as ending the relationship would jeopardise student exchanges and opportunities for Russian students to experience Australian culture.
Councillor Rohan Leppert said members of St Petersburg's LGBTI community also told council they did not want the relationship ended while there was an opportunity for dialogue between the two cities.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said that ending the sister-city relationship could endanger people in Russia “and that comes straight from the LGBTI community”.
Council said there was a possibility to use the 25th anniversary of the relationship to advocate for the LGBTI community or fund community organisations in St Petersburg.