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Venice disowns sister city

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2013

I’ve never really understood at the whole “sister city” concept. As best I can tell, it’s as if you grew up and discovered that your grammar school pen pal was actually a municipality. Really? What on earth did Hoboken want with my lemon-bar recipe?

But, in any case, there certainly are a lot of them and cities tend to take them seriously.

So in that spirit, I share the news that Venice – the City of Canals – (not Venice, CA, the City of What Were You Thinking?) is breaking off cultural relations with St Petersburg – City of Lunatics – because of the Russian city’s legislation curbing gay rights.

Since 2006 Venice and St. Petersburg have engaged in “cultural and other exchanges”, but Venice finally said that if Pete’s gunna be hating the gay, then no more.

The city council invoked Venice’s “history, international prestige and conscience” to refrain from cultural exchanges as long as anti-gay laws are in place.

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daftpunkydavid
January 29th, 2013 | LINK

i think their argument would have a bit more weight if italy treated its gay citizens the same way it does its straight ones. same goes for germany, who also criticized russia (and rightly so, imho).

i know there is a difference between oppression (russia) and tolerance/recognition-lite (italy, germany). but they have a lot of work to do themselves.

Steve
January 29th, 2013 | LINK

@daftpunkydavid
Marriage equality isn’t everything. Yeah, Germany lacks behind the US in family law (though it has second parent adoption nation wide) and there are severe disparities in tax law (as is the case in the US), but it does have extensive non-discrimination laws at the federal level. And no crap like DOMA, so immigration isn’t an issue for gay couples for example.

TampaZeke
January 29th, 2013 | LINK

“…there are severe disparities in tax law (as is the case in the US), but it does have extensive non-discrimination laws…”

All in the same sentence. I’ve never understood that.

daftpunkydavid
January 30th, 2013 | LINK

@ steve… if your point is that being gay in germany isn’t that bad, especially compared to russia or arguably the usa in some cases, your point is well taken.

however, the point i am making, is that they would have more standing to criticize russia for its anti-gay policies when they, too, put an end to their discriminatory treatment of gay people.

Lucrece
January 30th, 2013 | LINK

Don’t punch the queers! We’ve agreed that slaps are more appropriate!

It never ceases to amuse me when countries who routinely pass judgement on the worth of gay people take suddenly jump at the opportunity to get indignant over political opponents’ anti-gay transgressions.

Had it been — I don’t know, the US or Netherlands — who had passed such laws, I am inclined to think they would have stayed mum.

MCB
January 30th, 2013 | LINK

How a sister city relationship functions tends to depend according to the city. For many, it’s pretty meaningless, but where I lived before coming to work in Japan (Lawrence, KS) has a sister-city relationship with three other cities in Germany, Greece, and Japan, and every year sends a delegation to visit its sister cities. For Japan, we actually swap groups of students, with 20 middle- and high-schoolers from each nation visiting the other over the summer.

The upshot of this is that I wound up showing a group of Japanese teenagers around an American high school and had to explain to them what a Gay Straight Alliance was. They were completely stunned and rather impressed that Americans would ever feel safe to come out in high school. (“Amerika, sugoi!” were their exact words, I believe)

So don’t discount the worth of a sister city; it can bring unexpected blessings.

USBear2013
January 30th, 2013 | LINK

What? You couldn’t find an actual picture of Venice? You had to attach one of a hotel in the Nevada desert?

Jim Burroway
January 30th, 2013 | LINK

USBear2013 is right. The photo is of the Venician Hotel in Vegas.

As for Sister Cities, that program had a life-changing influence on me. My home town, Portsmouth, Ohio, was a sister city to Orizaba, Ver, Mexico. And it was through that program that I was able to spend the summer before my senior year in high school on their exchange program with a family in Orizaba, while my family played host to a Orizaba teen. The following year, my brother went to Orizaba and our family hosted another teen.

(Also, when Orizaba suffered a massive earthquake in 1973, a delegation from Portsmouth provided some of the earliest relief efforts. When I was there in 1978, there was still a great deal of visible damage.)

If you’ve never spent time — real time — in another country, there is so much you will always miss in life. That was/is the whole idea behind Sister Cities, a kind of people-to-people exchange which was intended to transcend borders, politics, cultures, etc. Which I think makes Venice’s decision kinda contrary to what the Sister Cities program is all about. But then, Portsmouth never had Venice’s prestige.

Timothy Kincaid
January 30th, 2013 | LINK

he he… i wondered who would catch that (I did give a hint in naming the picture)

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