Belfast Telegraph

Sir Elton's plea to Russia on gays

Sir Elton John spoke out about gay persecution in Russia as he performed a concert in St Petersburg and said the world would lose its "humanity" if people were punished for their sexuality.

He has previously been a critic of the problems in Russia and made his views known while he was on-stage at the city's Ice Palace last night (November 9).

His performance in St Petersburg comes just days after a sculpture commemorating former Apple boss Steve Jobs which had been placed at a university campus in the city was dismantled because his successor has announced he is gay.

Speaking at the concert, Sir Elton said: "I'm not big on technology, but I love my iPad! They're amazing, aren't they? They way they can connect us to the things and people we love.

"How dignified that St Petersburg should erect a memorial to Steve Jobs, the remarkable founder of Apple. But last week it was labelled 'homosexual propaganda' and taken down.

"Can this be true? Steve's memory is re-written because his successor at Apple, Tim Cook, is gay? Does that also make iPads gay propaganda? Is Tchaikovsky's beautiful music 'sexually perverting'?

"As a gay man, I've always felt so welcome here in Russia. Stories of Russian fans - men and women who fell in love dancing to Nikita, or their kids who sing along to Circle Of Life - mean the world to me.

"If I'm not honest about who I am, I couldn't write this music. It's not gay propaganda. It's how I express life. If we start punishing people for that, the world will lose its humanity."

In January of this year, Sir Elton wrote an open letter in which he offered to introduce Russian President Vladimir Putin to members of the gay community in his country to show the impact of "deeply divisive" legislation.

It came after Mr Putin denied he was homophobic, pointing out that he had gay friends and was a fan of the musician.

Sir Elton explained in his letter that he had heard first hand stories of verbal and physical abuse from many gay people he had spoken to during a concert visit just a few weeks earlier.

He wrote: "The people I met in Moscow were decent, kind, patriotic men and women who had no thought of forcing their sexuality on anyone. Whatever the intention of Russia's homosexuality and paedophilia 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."

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