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Aug 01 2013

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DIXON – A state advocacy group for gays and lesbians is making a request of Dixon and other cities in the Sister Cities International program. What do you think?

DIXON – A state advocacy group for gays and lesbians is making a request of Dixon and other cities in the Sister Cities International program. Suspend ties with Russia. Dixon, which has four international sister cities, entered the program with its relationship to Dickson, Siberia – a town of 643 people that’s a 2-hour flight from the North Pole. Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, urged Chicago on Wednesday to suspend its sister city relationship with Moscow as part of a concerted effort to protest Russia’s criminalization of gay rights activism. In addition, it called for other Illinois cities to suspend sister city partnerships with Russian cities: Bloomington-Normal with Vladminir, Russia and Dixon with Dickson. Russia has made international headlines with laws that ban the dissemination of information on nontraditional sexual relations and public marches. Randy Hannig, director of public policy at Equality Illinois, said gay rights activism has been met with violence in Russia, and it has to stop. “We’ve read reports of people walking down the street for public parades being beaten,” Hannig said. “Reports of gay-lesbian teenagers or young adults being encouraged to stay in houses to take refuge and then being beaten.” Geoff Vanderlin, past president of Dixon’s Sister Cities Association, said the relationship between Dixon and Dickson came during the Cold War, when there was a great deal of repression in the former Soviet Union. A Soviet article published an anti-capitalist report in 1984 titled “Dixon: A Community of Broken Hearts” to show the failures of Reaganism in the former U.S. president’s hometown. At that time, two Siberian journalists conceived the idea of connecting the two towns. “It took a great deal of courage for Dickson to approach a town in the United States,” Vanderlin said. “Ideologically, at that time, the U.S. opposed the Soviet regime and vice versa. “Speaking personally, I don’t feel discrimination of any kind is right, but I also don’t feel issue politics should sever ties here.” Vanderlin used the example of the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to illustrate his point. Suspend ties with Russia. Dixon, which has four international sister cities, entered the program with its relationship to Dickson, Siberia – a town of 643 people that’s a 2-hour flight from the North Pole. Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, urged Chicago on Wednesday to suspend its sister city relationship with Moscow as part of a concerted effort to protest Russia’s criminalization of gay rights activism. In addition, it called for other Illinois cities to suspend sister city partnerships with Russian cities: Bloomington-Normal with Vladminir, Russia and Dixon with Dickson. Russia has made international headlines with laws that ban the dissemination of information on nontraditional sexual relations and public marches. Randy Hannig, director of public policy at Equality Illinois, said gay rights activism has been met with violence in Russia, and it has to stop. “We’ve read reports of people walking down the street for public parades being beaten,” Hannig said. “Reports of gay-lesbian teenagers or young adults being encouraged to stay in houses to take refuge and then being beaten.” Geoff Vanderlin, past president of Dixon’s Sister Cities Association, said the relationship between Dixon and Dickson came during the Cold War, when there was a great deal of repression in the former Soviet Union. A Soviet article published an anti-capitalist report in 1984 titled “Dixon: A Community of Broken Hearts” to show the failures of Reaganism in the former U.S. president’s hometown. At that time, two Siberian journalists conceived the idea of connecting the two towns. “It took a great deal of courage for Dickson to approach a town in the United States,” Vanderlin said. “Ideologically, at that time, the U.S. opposed the Soviet regime and vice versa. “Speaking personally, I don’t feel discrimination of any kind is right, but I also don’t feel issue politics should sever ties here.” Vanderlin used the example of the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to illustrate his point.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.illinoissistercities.org/?p=2393

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