Elton John Criticizes Russian Anti-Gay Policy During Moscow Concert
Elton John didn't shy away from criticizing Russia's newly enacted anti-gay law, becoming the first major Western pop star to speak out on the measure during a Friday performance in Moscow. The BBC reports that John stopped his concert to decry the measure as "inhumane" and "isolating," while dedicating the night to a 23-year-old who was reportedly tortured and murdered in the Russian town of Volgograd because he was gay.
Both Lady Gaga and Madonna have previously been entanged in this controversy. Gaga was fined by a Russian court for "propaganda of alcohol consumption and homosexuality." Madonna, meanwhile, was sued for $10.5 million by activists citing "moral damage" inflicted on the community when she voiced similar support for the LGBT community during a concert at St. Petersburg.
Vladimir Putin signed the ban on so-called "homosexual propaganda" into law last June, and the news that John -- who has long been openly gay -- would tour through Russia was met with new protests from activists. One such group, called the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods, circulated a petition to block his performance. Another called the Ural Parents Committee wrote to Putin personally.
But John pressed on, telling NPR: "There are a lot of great Russian people out there who are outraged by what's going on; I don't want to abandon them," he said. "I, as a gay man and a gay musician, cannot stay at home and not support these people who have been to lots of my concerts in the past."