Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has taken up gay rights abuses with Russian ambassador Vladimir Morozov and floated the idea of flying a gay St Petersburg resident into town.
Fairfax Media reports that Doyle met with the ambassador last Thursday to discuss anti-gay laws in St Petersburg and other Russian areas.
Gay rights advocate Carl Katter, half-brother to federal MP Bob Katter, called Doyle to sever ties with its Russian sister city in an online petition last month, due to its “horrific” anti-gay laws.
Anyone who is caught “promoting” LGBT issues in Russia’s second largest city can be fined up to AU$150 and businesses can face a fine of up to AU$15,000.
Doyle said the council had no intentions of interfering with Russian politics but brought up the St Petersburg laws and that they would not be acceptable in Australia.
He said the conversation was a “little frosty” and that the City of Melbourne would continue its sister-city relationship.
Instead, the lord mayor said he would push for council to pay to fly a St Petersburg resident to visit Melbourne for one of its LGBTI festivals such as Midsumma or the Melbourne Queer Film Festival.
More than 9,000 people have signed Katter’s online petition since it began on February 24.
Russia’s national Parliament is currently debating a similar bill which received 388-1 votes in favour of the law on its initial hearing.
PinkNews reported that a 2012 poll found 86 per cent of Russians approved the bill, although only six per cent said they had been subject to “homosexual propaganda”.