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Aug 22, 2013

Chapel Hill Leaders Release Statement Encouraging Town to Sever Relationship With Anti-LGBT Russian Sister City

Chapel Hill, N.C. - Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Chapel Hill Town Council Member Lee Storrow released a joint statement today in support of severing Chapel Hill’s sister-city relationship with Saratov, Russia. Kleinschmidt and Storrow, who are both openly-gay, said they would petition Chapel Hill's Town Council to end the relationship with Saratov, Russia in light of Russia’s new anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) law banning “homosexual propaganda” that has led to government-sanctioned violence against LGBT Russians.

Full statement below:

"As openly LGBT politicians, the visuals and news stories coming out of Russia since the enactment of Russia’s new anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) law banning “homosexual propaganda” have been heartbreaking.

Innocent individuals and families face persecution, violence and detainment for expressing themselves openly and non-violently in the public square. These laws are deplorable and do nothing but create hardship, suffering, and in some cases death, for innocent people.

It is in light of these laws that we will be petitioning the Chapel Hill Town Council to sever our Sister City Relationship with Saratov, Russia.

Created decades ago, the relationship has been inactive as long as we have served on Council. The Town of Chapel Hill currently has no communication or active relationship with Saratov, Russia, and due to the enactment of Russia’s anti-LGBT policies, we see no reason to keep the relationship even in name.

We hope soon Russian society – as well as all societies foreign and domestic- will recognize that LGBT people deserve equal protection and freedom under the law. The law Russian’s passed against LGBT citizens is a law designed to address a problem that does not exist. LGBT citizens in all societies represent a great source of talent and value, able to contribute immeasurably to the betterment of a nation and a people. Until Russian society is able to come to this basic truth, we see no ability to move forward in a productive sister city relationship with a Russian city or town."

The statement followed Equality NC-sponsored constituent calls for several North Carolina cities, including Asheville, Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh to show support for LGBT Russians by severing ties with their Russian sister cities. Equality NC's petition campaign, "North Carolina says "Nyet" to Anti-LGBT Russia" also prompted a local response from Raleigh City Council candidate Brian Ftizsimmons who said in a post today on his campaign site that the Russia petition prompted him to work to expand LGBT workplace protection policies in Raleigh.

To sign the "Say 'Nyet' to Russia" petition in your city, please visit

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