di Marcello Mento
Venice, January 30 - Venice has suspended its 'sister city' status with St Petersburg over Russia's bill banning the promotion of homosexuality among minors. The accord between the cities is culturally based and was established after the fall of the Soviet Union. "Cultural agreements have no place (with a government) that fosters violence and abuse, which poorly conceal a return to a real dictatorship," said Venice City Councilwoman Camilla Seibezzi, who co-authored the motion in her city. Milan passed the same measure last month, and LGBT leaders in Turin are pushing city administrators to follow suit. Russian MPs on Friday gave their backing to a bill banning "homosexual propaganda" among minors in its first reading as supporters and opponents clashed outside parliament. The bill paves the way for the introduction of a ban on the promotion of gay rights across the federation. The proposed legislation introduces a fine of between 100 and 125 euros for individuals, between 1,000 and 1,250 euros for public authorities and between 10,000 and 12,500 euros for legal entities caught organising events promoting homosexuality or gay rights. Other similar provisions are already in force in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia - which forwarded the bill to the Russian parliament - and in other parts of the country including the second-largest city, St Petersburg. The bill is subject to two more readings in the Duma, after which it must be approved by the Upper House and President Vladimir Putin before it can become law.