Singer Sir Elton John performed in a number of Russian cities during December 2013, and had the opportunity to speak with some of the country’s LGBT citizens. On January 22, John wrote on his website of the great dangers that these men and women have faced, and went on to deprave the implementation of Putin’s anti-propaganda laws.
“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,” he wrote.
He also told about one man who said he had been stalked outside a gay club before another man impersonating a taxi driver called him a “sodomite” and attempted to strangle him with a guitar string.
John continued, “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.”
While John was able to travel and perform in Russia without harm, he says that does not console him.
“It was very clear to me that, although foreigners like myself who are visiting Russia are not affected by this new law (and President Putin has recently confirmed this), it is a very different story for those living inside the country,” wrote John.
The openly gay singer and prominent HIV/AIDS activist also claimed that HIV prevention information efforts have been shut down and labeled as “gay propaganda.” Furthermore, John expressed his disappointment in a law that links homosexuality with pedophilia, calling it “misunderstanding and ignorance.”
“The people I met in Moscow were decent, kind, patriotic men and women who had no thought of forcing their sexuality on anyone,” he wrote. “Whatever the intention of Russia’s homosexuality and pedophilia propaganda laws, I am absolutely clear from my own personal experience that it is proving deeply dangerous to the LGBT community and deeply divisive to Russian society.”
The knighted entertainer added that he would be willing to return to the country, though with much different intentions: to introduce Putin to the LGBT people whom his anti-propaganda laws have so negatively affected.
“I would welcome the opportunity to introduce President Putin to some Russians who deserve to be heard, and who deserve to be treated in their own country with the same respect and warm welcome that I received on my last visit.”