Tallahassee leaders to respond to Russia's controversial anti-gay laws

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Tallahassee city leaders are the latest to criticize Russia's laws that discriminate against homosexuals.

The issue came up during Wednesday's city commissioner meeting after city leaders received a letter from Nadine Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Florida Equality.

Commissioners mentioned Tallahassee's relationship with Russian sister city, "Krasnodar". It's located approximately 800 miles from Moscow on the Kuban River. It's a relationship that first started in 1984.

In response to Smith's letter to the commission, during Wednesday's meeting Commissioner Scott Maddox and Mayor John Marks said they are working on a letter that would be sent to leaders in Krasnodar.

"We have discussed it (the letter) and trying to find what would be an appropriate response to something like that," Mayor Marks said. "It's absolutely horrible, I mean just absolutely horrible about what we're hearing in Russia today in regards to those individuals who may be gay, lesbian, transsexual or bisexual."

Russia's new laws penalize anyone who distributes information aimed at persuading minors that "nontraditional" relationships are normal or attractive.

There is no word on when an official response will be sent from Tallahassee.  

Associated Press is reporting the IOC received a letter from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak giving reassurances the host country will comply fully with the Olympic Charter's provision against discrimination of any kind.

However, Kozak did not back down on the issue of the new law, which penalizes anyone who distributes information aimed at persuading minors that "nontraditional" relationships are normal or attractive.

The law applies equally to everyone and "cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation," Kozak said.

The letter still leaves open the question of what would happen to Olympic athletes or fans if they make statements or gestures that could be considered propaganda.

The law has provoked harsh international criticism ahead of the Feb. 7-23 Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi. Some activists have called for a boycott of the games, though President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have ruled that out.

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