Councilman to Mayor: Cut ties with sister-city for anti-gay law

Councilman Jim Kenney (Kriston J. Bethel / Staff Photographer, file)

City Councilman Jim Kenney wants Philadelphia to sever ties with its Russian "sister city" which has enacted a ban on "homosexual propaganda."

Nizhny Novgorod, Philly's "sister city" for over 20 years was one of the first in Russia to enact the ban.

Kenney sent a letter to Mayor Nutter Wednesday urging him to end the relationship.

"I believe that we --as the cradle of liberty and a beacon to the world for freedom of expression and human rights, cannot sit idly by without expressing our indignation and opposition to this clear and direct targeting of LGBTQ citizens in Russia," Kenney wrote. "Join with me in supporting our efforts to send a strong and direct message to the Russian government, that Philadelphia will not tolerate or remain silent while LGBTQ citizens are targeted for abuse, discrimination and criminality."

But, the Nutter administration plans on maintaining its relationship with Nizhny Novgorod.

"Philadelphia will be a powerful witness for the ongoing struggle for LGBT civil rights and human rights in Russia and we will tell our story of struggle and progress here with the hope that we can change minds there," said mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald. "That can't be done if we are no longer a sister city."