LGBT supporters across the world are fed up with Russia's anti-gay rhetoric, and a group in Bloomington-Normal is no exception. The Russian government recently passed a law that Dave Bentlin of the Prairie Pride Coalition says criminalizes LGBT behavior. He says anything from holding hands to raising a rainbow flag could get people arrested. With Russia holding this year's Winter Olympics, Bentlin says this could become a global problem.
"These people, whether they are LGBT athletes, LGBT sports fans, whatever the case may be, they're going to be coming to Russia, and they're going to be traveling to an environment that they see is openly hostile to LGBT people," he says.
Bentlin says citizens nationwide have taken action to show solidarity with Russia's LGBT community. He says some gay bars have stopped selling Russian vodka. He also says the United States government should encourage other countries to soften their stance on LGBT equality.
"I think that we need to long term keep our eyes on countries like Russia and Uganda and keep working with them and keep working toward a day when LGBT equality extends not only from the United States, but extends to other countries like Russia and Uganda," he says.
The Prairie Pride Coalition is also encouraging discussion about Bloomington-Normal's sister city relationship with Vladimir, Russia. Bentlin says his group isn't yet asking the Sister Cities organization to sever ties with Vladimir, but he'd like to see a dialogue beween the groups.
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