Valery Gergiev, the Russian conductor whose concerts have been protested by gay rights activists because of his support for Vladimir Putin, expressed his support for Munich’s anti-discrimination ordinance in a letter released to the public on Thursday, December 19.
Gergiev, who is slated to take over as director of the Munich Philharmonic in 2015, wrote the letter to city officials in order to address gay rights activists’ concerns over his stance on the anti-propaganda law that has been used to oppress the LGBT community in Russia.
“In my entire professional career as an artist, I have always and everywhere adhered to these principles and will do so in the future,” Mr. Gergiev wrote in a letter to Munich city officials, in regards to the city’s ordinance on anti-discrimination. “All other allegations hurt me very much.”
The debate began over comments Gergiev made to the Dutch paper De Volkskrant, where he defended the anti-propaganda law; he claimed it is intended to protect children from pedophilia.
At a news conference held on December 17, Gergiev denied the implied sentiment behind that statement, saying “I think there is nothing to compare about homosexuality and pedophilia; I never talked about this issue.”
Munich’s mayor and cultural adviser consider the matter closed, and intent to move forward with the Gergiev’s appointment as director of the city’s Philharmonic, though some activists still foster uneasy feelings about the conductor’s stance towards the LGBT community.
“The start of a relationship of trust looks very different,” said activist Rita Braaz, a member of the Rona Liste association, which represents LGBT people in Munich. However, she voiced a hope that Gergiev will show more support for the LGBT community in the future, and use his power to influence Russian politics.
“Mr. Gergiev holds a powerful position we would like to see him have the courage to stand up for equality.”