November 4, 2013

Portland sees benefits in keeping ties with gay-unfriendly sister city

Portlanders will have two opportunities this month to test the city’s approach.

By Tom Bell
Staff Writer

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Photo courtesy Perspective Gay rights activists protest in Archangelsk, Russia, in this undated photo provided by Perspective, a gay rights group in Archangelsk. The city in northern Russia is the sister city of Portland. Two members of Perspective will be in Portland this week as part of a trip funded by Human Rights First. The sign in the center says “Different People, Equal Value.” The sign on the right says, “Violence and Discrimination are Not Traditional Values.”

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Many sister-city relationships between Russia and the United States have waned over the years because the cities have struggled to maintain the enthusiasm for peaceful relations that emerged at the end of the Cold War, Duffett said. But the Portland-Archangel relationship is considered among the healthiest because of its strong personal ties, he said.

Suslovic, who has traveled to Archangel four times, said he will ask the activists what they think Portland should do to advance civil rights in Archangel.

During their visit, the Russians will also meet with the Maine chapter of Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and visit Positive Health Care, a clinic on India Street that provides services to people with HIV/AIDS.

On Monday at the Waynflete School, the Russians will meet with groups that represent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students from several high schools.

On Tuesday, they will attend a discussion with human resources managers and gay-rights groups in the Portland office of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. On Wednesday evening, they will meet at the drop-in center for gay teenagers run by Portland Outright.

On Thursday, the Russians will go to Washington, D.C., to meet with staff from Sister Cities International and the Helsinki Commission. At the White House, they’ll meet members of the Obama administration who work on Russian issues.

Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

Twitter: TomBellPortland

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