Sir Elton John has offered to introduce Russian President Vladimir Putin to members of the gay community in his country who were being victimised under legislation banning “homosexual propaganda”. The musician said he met many people on a recent visit to Moscow who had been attacked or threatened as a result of the “deeply divisive” laws, which have been widely condemned as anti-gay.
Last weekend, Mr Putin denied being homophobic claiming he had gay friends and was a fan of Sir Elton, who he described as an “extraordinary person… regardless of his orientation”.
In a statement on his website, Sir Elton responded by saying the Russian laws have been “promoting misunderstanding and ignorance” and were “deeply dangerous” to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LBGT).
The veteran singer said he had set out on his visit to Moscow last month to hear “first hand” what differences the legislation had made to people’s lives.
“What I heard reinforced all the media stories that have been circling since the propaganda Bill became federal law: that vicious homophobia has been legitimised by this legislation and given extremists the cover to abuse people’s basic human rights”, he said.
“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.
“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.”