Elton John took some time at his sold-out Moscow concert this week to speak out against Russia’s highly controversial law banning the “propaganda of homosexuality” to minors. The singer interrupted his performance on Friday to say that he was “sad to learn” of the country’s new law that bans “homosexual propaganda.”
“I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the (homosexual) community here in Russia,” he said to the audience. “In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating. Harmony is what makes a happy family and a strong society.”
John told the crowd he was dedicating Friday night’s show to Vladislav Tornovoi, a 23-year-old man whose naked body had been dumped in a courtyard in the city of Volgograd, found to have been raped with beer bottles and with his skull smashed. A suspect told police he had been killed because he was gay.
According to the BBC, Sir Elton became the first major Western celebrity known for his support of gay rights to perform in Russia since the ban was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in June. In September John said in an interview with NPR he felt obliged as a gay man to perform for his fans in Russia.
“Now I’m going to – I’ll probably get criticised for going and I can understand that. It’s just 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,” he told NPR’s Terry Gross.
John also said he hoped to talk with people in the Russian administration on his trip. “There’s no point in going otherwise,” he said. “You can make a statement and you can read it from the stage, but it would be nice and it would be much more fulfilling to try and meet with people in Moscow and say listen, this is just, you know, this is silly.”
Last year, both Madonna and Lady Gaga spoke out against similar local legislation during concerts in Saint Petersburg. A Russian court last month fined the Lady Gaga Russian promoter for “propaganda of alcohol consumption and homosexuality.” Madonna was also hit with a $10.5 million lawsuit in August last year for voicing support for the local LGBT community.
No charges have been made against Sir Elton John yet and the singer is scheduled to play a second Russian concert in the Volga city of Kazan on Saturday. Said Russian promoters, SAV Entertainment, “Despite the groundless rumours spread by the internet and media that Elton John’s concerts in Russia could be cancelled, the organiser assures you that Elton John’s shows in Moscow and Kazan will go ahead as planned.”