Despite Anti-LGBT Law, Philly Won’t Cut Ties with Russian Sister City

Wait, Philly has a sister city in Russia? Yes. And as it happens, Nizhny Novgorod is not only the fifth-largest city in the country, but the city that paved the way for the anti-LGBT law that’s now in place nationwide. A couple weeks ago, City Council, along with various progressive advocates, called for the city to end the relationship. This week, according to the Philly Gay News, it announced that it won’t.

“Ending our sister-city relationship with Nizhny Novgorod would sever our ability to support their LGBT community today and in the future. It would also invalidate 21 years of work that would likely never be repaired,” said the mayor’s spokesman Mark McDonald.

People are going to cry bullshit, but he’s got a point. Not only would ending the relationship make it near-impossible for Philly to lobby/work constructively with Nizhny Novgorod in the future, but it might instill something of a martyr complex in the city, which would be counterproductive. As TNR’s Julia Ioffe wrote regarding a potential U.S. boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, “Boycotting them gives them a sense of wounded pride and artificial importance.” Whether Philly should “troll” the city instead, as Ioffe suggested the U.S. do to Russia, is another question altogether.