Elton John Defends Russia Visit, Speaking for LGBT Rights
Elton John came under fire initially when he announced that he would perform in Russia, just a few months before the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The pop star, who spoke out for LGBT rights during his show, further explained why he went to Russia in a statement posted to the Elton John Foundation website on Wednesday.
"There was a lot of speculation about whether I would go to Russia this year. Many people outside the country thought I should boycott Russia because of its new homophobic legislation," the statement reads. "Others said I must go to challenge the government. I decided in the end to be guided by what the Russian people wanted me to do.
"The message, from even the most marginalised Russian groups we work with at the Elton John AIDS Foundation, was ’please come,’" he continued. "If you don’t come, AIDS workers and LGBT activists told us, we will feel isolated. We will miss having your voice in our debate. It might be interpreted that you don’t care. Or we may be blamed for keeping you away."
"In Moscow I spent hours with gay activists, Federal doctors, human rights lawyers and people living with HIV," John said. "They told me that since the new legislation has been adopted it’s getting harder and harder to deliver basic HIV information or healthcare to gay men for fear of seeming to ’promote’ homosexuality, which is against the law. Gay people lie even to their children about their sexuality, in case it jeopardises their families."
The singer went on to explain that he made a statement to concertgoers during his show in Russia, saying he was "sad" and shocked about the country’s highly controversial "homosexual propaganda" law.
"A young woman with a rainbow banner cheered," John continued. "I realised then, with thousands of Russians cheering for a man they knew to be gay, that I had made the right decision. I believe the Russian people are decent and will be persuaded - but they need to hear us, and see we are human. They can’t do that from a distance of two thousand miles."