Elton John Defends Russian LGBT Community in Open Letter to Vladimir Putin
By Shannon Carlin
Elton John isn’t one to stay quiet. So after hearing about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent statements linking homosexuality to pedophilia, he decided he needed to address the foreign leader directly.
In the 7-paragraph statement, which went up today (Jan. 22) on his website, John states that “vicious homophobia has been legitimised by this legislation and given extremists the cover to abuse people’s basic human rights.” The legislation John is referring to is a law Putin signed last year that classifies “homosexual propaganda” as pornography, which means anyone who is gay or supports gay right is subject to arrest and fines.
John goes on to talk about his experience in the country last December when he arrived to play a show in Moscow, noting that he was “welcomed as an openly gay foreigner,” but wanted to understand “first-hand what difference the legislation had made to Russian LGBT in their own country.”
“The people I met in Moscow – gay men and lesbians in their 20′s, 30′s and 40′s - told me stories about receiving threats from vigilante groups who would ‘cure’ them of homosexuality by dousing them with urine or beating them up,” John writes. “One young man was stalked outside a gay club by someone posing as a taxi driver who tried to garrotte him with a guitar string because he was a “sodomite.” Everyone shared stories of verbal and physical abuse – at work, in bars and restaurants or in the street – since the legislation came into force last June. And, some of the vital work providing HIV prevention information to the gay community has been labelled “homosexual propaganda” and shut down.”
While John says it is clear foreigners are not subject to the law—something Putin has confirmed—he says the legislation has increased the amount of hate crimes towards the LGBT community.