Elton John Condemns Vladimir Putin's Anti-Gay Laws, Offers To Introduce Putin To Gay Russians
Go, go, Elton! With just weeks before the Sochi Winter Olympics start, music king Sir Elton John has released a damning statement on his official website against Russia's anti-gay laws. Elton called the law banning instances of "gay propaganda' an example of "vicious homophobia," and volunteered to introduce Russian president Vladimir Putin to gay Russian citizens "who deserve to be heard."
Last month, John performed in the Russian cities of Moscow and Kazan, and wrote that he was shocked by the stories his gay fans had told him about the treatment of the LGBT community in Russia. The openly gay singer added that he'd been concerned that his Dec. 2013 trip to Russia would be marred by the anti-gay laws laws.
Russia's anti-gay laws, signed in by Putin last August, make it illegal to participate in any activity that could considered "gay propaganda." It's a deliberately broad phrase, meaning that it can be used in a number of circumstances to persecute gay men and women. The laws also draw an unfair parallel between homosexuality and pedophilia — it bans any exhibition by the LGBT community, such as protest or holding hands in public, in front of minors — which further stigmatizes a community that continually suffers from threats and violence in Russia.
While Putin has made a (poor) attempt to soften the international image of Russia ahead of the Olympics, declaring that gay people will be safe at Sochi as long as they "leave kids alone," there are still travel warnings for LGBT Americans planning to attend the Olympics. The warnings alert American citizens that foreigners can be jailed, fined, and/or deported if they demonstrate affection in public or take part in gay-rights protests in Russia.
Putin recently used Russia's love of Elton John to illustrate that the country doesn't discriminate against gays. "Millions of our people sincerely love him despite his orientation," Putin told press.