LA City Councilmen Mike Bonin, Tom LaBonge and Mitch O'Farrell, under the "Sister Cities" sign at First and Main Streets. Photo by Avishay Artsy.

LA City Councilmen Mike Bonin, Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell, under the “Sister Cities” sign at First and Main Streets.

The Los Angeles City Council today unanimously approved a resolution urging the U.S. government to grant asylum to gay, lesbian and transgender people fleeing persecution in Russia.

The resolution was sponsored by openly gay Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin.

This morning they stood at the corner of First and Main Streets, in the shadow of City Hall. Together with a group of other city leaders and gay rights advocates, they hung a rainbow gay pride flag from the Sister City Monument “street sign” that points in the direction of St. Petersburg, a sister city to Los Angeles since 1989.

Russian laws banning so-called “propaganda” in support of gay rights originated in St. Petersburg.

City council members and gay rights advocates hold a rainbow gay pride flag near the Sister Cities marker in downtown LA.

City council members and gay rights advocates hold a rainbow gay pride flag near the Sister Cities marker in downtown LA.

But Bonin insisted the action is not meant to be viewed as anti-Russian or offend LA’s Russian community. “And that’s one of the reasons that we’re not severing sister city ties. We’re actually trying to use them to capitalize on our relationship, to get the word out, and we want to allow people who support LGBT rights and human dignity, whether they’re members of the Russian community or not, to have a vehicle and a voice for that,” Bonin said.

LA City Controller Ron Galperin, who is also openly gay, condemned the Russian government for enacting anti-gay legislation.

“What we are facing is, that if a teacher tells students that it’s okay to be gay, then they face imprisonment. They face being accused of spreading propaganda. They face being silenced and fined. We have to stand up against this,” Galperin said.

Earlier this month, owners of West Hollywood gay bars poured water from Russian vodka bottles into gutters as part of an internationally-orchestrated boycott. Groups have also called on athletes to boycott the Sochi Olympics in Russia next year.

A rainbow "gay pride" flag hangs from a sign pointing in the direction of St. Petersburg, Russia.

A rainbow “gay pride” flag hangs from a sign pointing in the direction of St. Petersburg, Russia. Photos by Avishay Artsy.

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