Pop icon Sir Elton John had a few things to get off of his mind regarding Russia’s anti-gay laws. As the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi approaches, both Russia and President Vladimir Putin have come under fire regarding the “gay propaganda” law. According to NBC News on Jan. 23, John lashed out at the country.
On his website, Elton John talked about his last visit to the country and stated that he was welcomed as an openly gay foreigner, but quickly learned that life wasn’t as welcoming for the Russian LGBT community, especially since the law was passed.
The “Your Song” singer posted the following statement on his website on Wednesday explaining what he learned:
“I wanted to really understand at first-hand what difference the legislation had made to Russian LGBT in their own country. What I heard reinforced all the media stories that have been circling since the propaganda bill became federal law: that vicious homophobia has been legitimized by this legislation and given extremists the cover to abuse people’s basic human rights.”
Despite signing the bill into law, Putin has publicly stated that Russia does not discriminate against gay people. He even used Sir Elton John as a referencing, stating that millions love him despite his sexual orientation.
Vladimir Putin also addressed how Olympic athletes will be received in the country; saying that there wouldn’t be a problem, while adding “I’ve honored several members of the gay community in this country, but for their personal achievements not sexual orientation.”
Elton John does not argue the fact that he, as well as other prominent foreigners have been treated well but such is not the case for gays and lesbians who are everyday citizens. He says:
“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. 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.”
Elton John then invited Putin to meet some of the gay and lesbian Russians he has met. By doing so, he will hear the voices of those who deserve to be heard and understand the heartbeats of human lives who deserve to be treated equally.
John also condemned Putin recently linking homosexuality with child sex abuse. He called it “very disappointing” and factually “conclusively wrong.”