Just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin honored Elton John as a much-loved star in his country, the world-renowned singer posted a letter on his website
critical of Russia’s anti-gay legislation and called on Putin to open conversations with the gay community.
John performed concerts in Russia in December, despite criticism from gay activists who asked him to boycott the country for its extreme anti-gay legislation, Rolling Stone reported
. John said he knew he had fans there and felt that he had to perform for them.
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But in the open letter John posted, he said that while he was treated well in Russia, he talked to the gay community and confirmed news reports of the horrors gays were suffering in the country.
“The people I met in Moscow — gay men and lesbians in their '20s, '30s, and '40s — told me stories about receiving threats from vigilante groups who would ‘cure’ them of homosexuality by dousing them with urine or beating them up,” John wrote. “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.’”
John called on Putin to meet with 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.”
TMZ reported that Putin used John as an example,
saying that gay people visiting Russia will not be subject to the country’s anti-gay laws.
“Millions of our people sincerely love him despite his orientation,” TMZ quoted Putin as saying.
An anti-gay group had asked Putin to cancel the star’s December concerts. Rolling Stone said a local news agency quoted a spokesperson saying, “The statement by this gay guy— Elton John — about his support for gays and other perverts during the upcoming concert ... is an insult to all Russian citizens. It also makes a mockery of our recently enacted law against the public propaganda of gay ideas.”
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