Illinois is making the call for Chicago to cut ties with Russia in
light of the eastern European country's crackdown on the LGBT community
by banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."
Members of the local LGBT organization want Chicago to halt its Sister Cities
International program with Moscow, Russia's capital. The program
includes business forums and arts programs, as well as the annual
black-tie celebration in Chicago of Russia Day.
Equality Illinois wants other Illinois cities that have similar sister partnerships with Russia to end those relationships. Illinoisans should also cancel recreational or cultural travels to Russia, members of the organization said.
"As the state's oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, we believe that it cannot be business as usual in Illinois' relations with Russia until that country's oppressive laws
are reversed and gays are not targeted for oppression," said Bernard
Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, in a statement. "From many small
but meaningful steps, a national and then an international consensus
will grow and ultimately, we believe, force Russia to change its behavior toward its gay citizens and visitors."
Additionally, the group said LGBT Illinoisans and allies should suspend their business relationships with Russia. A number of Chicago
bars have stopped selling Russian vodka, but the orginization is making the push for more Illinois businesses to follow suit and "suspend activities that help
the Russian government or empower it by strengthening their economy."