Gay advocacy group wants Chicago to suspend sister city program with Moscow

July 30, 2013

By Lee Jian Chung

(Flickr/Somiz)
Protesters march on the streets of Moscow, Russia, on June 12, 2012. Russia recently passed a law that bans people from holding gay pride rallies and informing minors about the LGBT community.

LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois wants Chicago to suspend its sister city program with the Russian capital of Moscow.

The program organizes local events, such as the Russia Day celebrations and the Russian-American Business Forum, to help strengthen cultural and commercial ties between the two cities.

Russia recently passed a law that bans people from holding gay pride rallies and informing minors about the LGBT community.

Equality Illinois also calls for Illinoisans to cancel business dealings with or travel plans to the eastern European country.

Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov says some local businesses have already stopped selling Russian products.

“We live in a city that is very conscious of treating everyone with equal dignity and respect, and by us partnering with Moscow, a city that’s... the opposite of where Chicago stands, I think we’re going to send a strong message by saying that enough is enough.” Cherkasov said.

Chicago Sister Cities International says they must continue the program so LGBT Russians might still feel welcome here. A statement from the organization also noted that it’s important to keep the lines of communication open.

Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him @jclee89.