Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Melbourne-Saint Petersburg Sister City Relationship saved

Melbourne City Council tonight voted overwhelming to maintain the Melbourne-Saint Petersburg, Russia Sister City Relationship

Councillor Rohan Leppert, who originally championed the cancellation or suspension of the Sister City relationship,  was forced to back down in the face of opposition from not only the Melbourne and Australian Community but also the Russian LGBTI Community.

Councillor Leppert had jumped on the bandwagon of the gay lobby group who called for the City Council to cancel its relations for what they claimed were human rights abuses in Russia. 

Councillor Leppert failed to recognize that the Russian legislation that was the focus of his attention was aimed at banning promotion of gay sex involving children.  "Pedophilia Tourism" is a major concern in Russia, with cashed up Westerners traveling to Russia looking to pay for child sex. that even those in Western democracies would find abhorrent and offensive. The Russian legislation made it illegal to promote such activities. something the Western media failed to mention or down played when they reported on this issue 

Members of the Russian LGBTI community wrote to the City of Melbourne urging them to not cancel the Sister City Relationship as it would not be in their best interest .  It was reported during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic in an interview with a gay club in Sochi that the only harassment they had experienced was from the Western Media seeking interviews.

Better to be inside the tent then outside

Thanks to Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle and other City Councillors, common sense prevailed and the Leppert/Greens motion was thwarted.

Melbourne is the only city in the Southern hemisphere that has a Sister City agreement with Saint Petersburg. This relationship is more valuable to us then it is to Russia.  Had Melbourne sought to suspend the relationship Russia would have cancelled it, and rightfully so,

Discussion with the department of Foreign Affairs and Trade highlighted the inappropriateness for Melbourne to suspend the relationship. Melbourne Sister City relationship is a vehicle to promote cultural and economic exchange It is not there to push Geo-political issues or to lecture St Petersburg what they should and should not do or for us to push our values on another State.

Leppert's sincerity brought into question.

If Rohan Leppert and others were sincere about their concern of alleged Human Rights abuse against the LGBTI community, why single out St Petersburg?  Arizona and Kansas in the United States have more direct discriminatory legislation in place and yet we do not hear Rohan Leppert calling for the suspension or cancellation of Melbourne-Boston Sister City Relationship or the relationship with China as a result of Human Rights abuse in Tibet or Japan for hunting Wales in the antarctic region.

Rohan Leppart has an obligation to represent all of Melbourne and not just his own personal sectional interests.

What was also telling was that Green Councillors Rohan Leppert and Cathy Oak failed to consult or consider the impact of their proposal on the Melbourne Russian speaking community who are very proud of the relationship between the two cities and who want to help foster greater understanding and cultural ties.  Nowhere in Rohan Leppert thinking did he consider their needs or aspirations.

The City of Melbourne is celebrating 25 years since the signing of the Melbourne Sister City Relationship. Instead of helping develop and fostering the relationship Rohan Leppert was quick to discard it and embark on another round of cold war, anti-Russian, Geo-political chest beating, so he can grab a few cheap headlines and pander to what he perceives is he is constituency. Cr Leppert forgets that his obligations, as an elected councillor, is to represent the interests for Melbourne as a whole.

Please do not rain on our Parade and City Pride

Thank god common sense prevailed and Rohan Leppert failed to receive the support he once thought he had. Instead of raining on the parade we can now embrace Melbourne St Petersburg 25 year Sister City relationship and learn from each other without sexual politics interfering.

Facts ignored by Rohan Leppert

Is being gay a crime in Russia?
No. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993.
But why are homosexuals being punished?
A law was passed earlier this summer that levies a fine of up to 50,000 rubles (about $1,500 dollars) on any individuals, and  up to 1 million rubles (about $30,000) on any organizations engaged in “propaganda of non-traditional relationships to minors”.

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