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Russian Official Says ’Nyet’ to Seattle Mayor’s Protests

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Sep 17, 2013
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Top Russian officials are up in arms after discovering that the mayor of Seattle joined a protest in front of the local Russian consulate. One of four Russian consuls general living in the U.S. sent a letter to Mayor Mike McGinn asking why he joined the "misleading" protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws.

"I would appreciate it if you could clarify whether your support of the protesters reflects the official position on the authorities of Seattle?" wrote Andrey Yushmanov in an agitated letter, as reported by Dominic Holden in Slog -- the blog section of Dan Savage’s newspaper the Stranger.

Yushmaov said he was "unpleasantly surprised" to see McGinn among the crowd of 250 protestors in a Sept. 3 rally in front of the consular residence. Protestors were upset over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recently-passed laws that criminalizes "gay propaganda," ban tourists from exhibiting "gay behavior" and prohibits gay parents from adopting children. Since the controversial "homosexual propaganda" law passed in Russia, it has triggered a surge of anti-gay crimes, including gays being ambushed, beaten, doused in urine, raped and murdered.

"The goal of public policy toward children is to protect them from factors that can negatively affect their physical, intellectual, mental, spiritual and moral development," Yushmanov defended the law, adding that "punishing a country for having a different opinion is a form of discrimination in itself."

"I disagree," McGinn replied on Sept. 13. "Tolerance of homosexuality means not calling its legality into question. Tolerance of homosexuality means affording the same rights to LGBT citizens that other citizens enjoy." He added that Russia’s policies "condemn homosexuality while promoting reticence in the face of hate-based violence."

McGinn said that Russia’s laws were "in direct contrast to the City of Seattle’s policies and values regarding LGBT people," but stopped short of offering a position on behalf of the Seattle City Council, saying that they refused to take a position against the anti-gay laws.

"We inquired with the Council President [Sally Clark] to see if the Council would support a joint resolution expressing the City of Seattle’s official position regarding anti-LGBT laws in Russia," mayoral spokesman Robert Cruickshank told Slog. "She declined."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women’s news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes about local restaurants in her food blog, http://brooklyniscookin.blogspot.com/

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