Russian president Vladimir Putin recently denied that he and the Russian people are homophobic, and gave as an example the fact that they're big fans of Elton John , "d espite his orientation." Now Elton has penned a lengthy letter on his website criticizing Putin for the anti-gay laws he's enacted in that country.
"I am deeply grateful for the support of the Russian people who have welcomed and accepted me in their country ever since I first visited in 1979," Elton writes. "On my last visit, in December 2013, I wondered whether the new legislation banning 'homosexual propaganda' might have changed that. It hadn’t. I still felt the same warmth and welcome from the audiences that I have felt every time I have been in Russia."
However, Elton says that during the visit, he met with members of the LGBT community and learned that "vicious homophobia" against everyday citizens had been "legitimized" by the anti-gay legislation, and that it had allowed "extremists" to "abuse people's basic human rights."
Elton goes on to detail horrific stories of verbal and physical abuse that Russian gays have suffered since the laws went into affect, and adds that even attempts to distribute information about HIV prevention to the gay community have been labeled "homosexual propaganda" and shut down.
"It was very clear to me that, although foreigners like myself who are visiting Russia are not affected by this new law (and President Putin has recently confirmed this), it is a very different story for those living inside the country," Elton concludes.
He adds, "Whatever the intention of Russia’s homosexuality and pedophilia propaganda laws, I am absolutely clear from my own personal experience that it is proving deeply dangerous to the LGBT community and deeply divisive to Russian society."
Elton finishes by saying, "I would welcome the opportunity to introduce President Putin to some 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."
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