A gay rights advocacy group has expressed concern over Bloomington-Normal's relationship with a Russian city. Dave Bentlin, board president of the Prairie Pride Coalition, says the community is sister cities with Vladimir, Russia. But, Russia recently criminalized LGBT behavior, and Bentlin says the coalition is now questioning that sisterhood. He says advocates wants to engage in dialogue with the board in charge of the sister city relationship before suggesting extreme action.
"There have been a lot of calls around the country for various cities who have sister city relationships to suspend their relationships with their sister city in Russia," he says. "We are not at that point."
Russia's new legislation bans the distribution of what goverment officials call nontraditional sexual relations. Bentlin says this could be anything from hand-holding to a flag. He says the issue has become especially heated because Russia is set to host the Winter Olympics. He says this puts LGBT athletes and visitors from other countries in an uncomfortable position.
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