Elton John's Russia gigs to go ahead
Friday, 06 December 2013 11:30
Elton JohnElton John performed at New York's Madison Square Garden earlier this week as part of his world tour

Russian promoters have insisted two Elton John shows "will go ahead as planned" despite concerns over the country's crackdown on gay rights.

In June President Vladimir Putin signed a national law banning the "propaganda of homosexuality" to minors.

Sir Elton vowed last month to raise the issue on stage when he plays tonight's sold out date in Moscow and a show in the Volga city of Kazan on Saturday.

The singer said he also planned to "meet with the LGBT community" there.

Russian promoters, SAV Entertainment, issued a statement reassuring fans that the two shows would be going ahead.

"Despite the groundless rumours spread by the internet and media that Elton John's concerts in Russia could be cancelled, the organiser assures you that Elton John's shows in Moscow and Kazan will go ahead as planned," it said.

Last month, the British singer told CNN that he was "going to say something from the stage that's... going to be meaningful".

But he added that he would be "cautious" of being overcritical of the President as he did not want to get thrown out of the country, describing the current situation as "awful".

'Obliged' to perform
David Furnish and Elton JohnDavid Furnish and Elton John attended a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in October

Sir Elton will be the first major Western star known for his support of gay rights to play in Russia since the new law, which critics fear could be used to ban any gay rights event.

Last year, both Madonna and Lady Gaga used concerts in Saint Petersburg to speak out against similar local legislation.

Gaga's promoters were fined last month under a child protection law which includes the ban on 'gay propaganda'.

Elton John publicly said he was gay in 1988 and is in a civil partnership with David Furnish, with whom he has two children born to a surrogate mother.

In September he told The Guardian that he felt an obligation to perform in Russia so that gay men and women living there did not feel like they were in "an isolated situation".

"As a gay man, I can't leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them," he told the newspaper.

"I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to go."

Gay athletes welcome

In Russia, groups such as the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods and the Ural Parents Committee have publicly spoken out against Sir Elton performing in the country, either through a petition or a letter to Mr Putin.

Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, but its medical institutions continued to class homosexuality as a mental disorder until 1999.

A survey by Levada independent polling centre in March found that 34% thought homosexuality was an illness that should be treated.

With next year's Winter Olympics due to be held in Sochi in Russia, the current law has attracted attention around the world.

However Mr Putin said in October that gay "athletes, fans and guests" would be made to feel welcome during the games.

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source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-25258448#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa


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