By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Michael Nutter is rejecting a city councilman’s request that Philadelphia end its “sister city” relationship with a Russian city which has enacted an anti-gay law.
At issue is the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, which has been a sister city of Philadelphia for more than 20 years, and which has passed the controversial ban on so-called “homosexual propaganda.”
City Councilman Jim Kenney has now sent the mayor a letter, asking Nutter to severe all ties with Nizhny Novgorod.
“We should not have a significant, or any relationship with a city or a nation that decides that they’re going to discriminate against people because of who they are,” Kenney said.
But the mayor’s spokesman, Mark McDonald, says Nutter wants the sister city relationship to continue – so that Philadelphians can send the Russian city a message.
“We think that maintaining ties with Nizhny Novgorod gives us the opportunity to show them what diversity and western values are all about. For that reason, we’re not going to cut off communications,” McDonald said. “We’re going to urge people to use social media to deride the policies in that country and city, and show what a great city Philadelphia is.”
With his initial request to the mayor rejected, Kenney says he may draft a formal resolution calling for a severance of ties so his colleagues on city council can weigh in as well.
“Would we have a sister city relationship with a city that discriminates against people because of their race? Or because of their gender? I don’t think that we should be putting our stamp of approval on cities that make these kind of rules,” Kenney said.