Elton John speaks out against anti-gay laws at Moscow show

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 December, 2013, 7:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 December, 2013, 7:31am

British pop icon Elton John used a concert in Moscow to call on Russia to end discrimination against gays and lesbians, the Interfax news agency reported.

The openly gay singer said he was "sad to learn" about a Russian "anti-gay law", which bans what it calls homosexual propaganda to minors.

"He called for renouncing all discrimination, including that based on non-traditional sexual orientation," Interfax said, using an expression used in Russia for describing homosexuality.

According to the news agency and several messages on social networks, John dedicated his concert to Vladislav Tornovoi, a 23-year-old man who in May was tortured to death in Volgograd, southwest Russia, apparently for being gay.

That sordid crime raised an outcry from the gay community and gay-rights activists.

John, 66, was the first major Western star known for strong support of gay rights to play in Russia since President Vladimir Putin in June signed a national law banning "propaganda of homosexuality" to minors.

The loosely worded law, aggressively lobbied for by the country's conservative lawmakers, can be used to ban any gay rights event, critics say.

John publicly announced his homosexuality in 1988 and is in a civil partnership. He and partner David Furnish have two children born to a surrogate mother.

The singer is a major backer of programmes to help those with Aids. In 2009, Ukraine refused to let him adopt an HIV-positive toddler.

Before Russia's national law was signed, US pop stars Madonna and Lady Gaga last year used concerts in Saint Petersburg to speak out against local legislation that went in the same direction.

The promoters of Lady Gaga's concert were fined last month by a Saint Petersburg court under a child protection law which includes a ban on gay propaganda.