“You took me to your hearts all these years ago and you’ve always welcomed me with warmth and open arms every time I’ve visited,” said John while on stage in the Russian capital. “You have always embraced me and you have never judged me. So I’m deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia.”
Members of the audience applauded John as he continued to speak out against Russia’s LGBT rights record that includes a broadly worded law that bans gay propaganda to minors. He dedicated the concert to Vladislav Tornovoi, a 23-year-old man whom authorities said two men tortured and killed near Volgograd in May after he came out to them.
“Some people have demanded that because of this legislation, I must not come here to Russia,” said John. “But many, many more people asked me to come and I listened to them. I love coming here.”
Lady Gaga and Madonna’s comments against St. Petersburg’s gay propaganda to minors ban during concerts in the city in 2012 prompted Russian authorities to investigate whether the singers did not secure the proper visas to enter the country. A St. Petersburg court dismissed a $10 million lawsuit against Madonna over her comments.
John’s concert took place in Moscow roughly a month after gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts co-hosted the Miss Universe 2013 pageant in the Russian capital.
Roberts criticized the gay propaganda law during a series of pre-pageant interviews with his network. Neither he, co-host Mel B nor pageant participants discussed the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record during the event’s broadcast.
German president to boycott Olympics
The Associated Press on Sunday reported German President Joachim Gauck will boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February because of the Kremlin’s human rights record.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Obama and retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova are among those who oppose a boycott of the Sochi games over the gay propaganda law and Russia’s ongoing LGBT rights crackdown.
Lesbian Russian journalist Masha Gessen on Dec. 5 discussed her support of a boycott of the Olympics while speaking on a panel at Human Rights First’s annual summit in D.C.
“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin should be a pariah at this point,” said Gessen. “He should be alone in that box at the Olympic games, which are his personal project.”