Elton John performing in 2008
Elton John has used this weekend’s concerts in Russia to condemn state homophobia in the country.
John is the first major star to perform in Russia since the federal “gay propaganda” law came into effect in June.
At his sold out show on Friday in Moscow, he faced being arrested and deported after he criticised the controversial law.
“I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia,” John told the crowd.
“In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating,” he added to some applause.
“Music is a very powerful thing. It brings people together, irrespective of their age, their race, their sexuality or their religion. It does not discriminate. Look around you tonight.
“You see men, women, young and old, gay and straight. Thousands of happy Russian people enjoying music. We are all here together in harmony. And harmony is what makes a happy family… and a strong society.”
John dedicated the show to Vladislav Tornovoi, who was murdered in May, apparently after coming out as gay to some friends.
The 23-year-old was beaten and his head smashed in with a rock. He was also raped with a beer bottle and his body was then set alight.
John had been urged by many activists to cancel the concerts, but he insisted that it would be better “going over there and supporting [gays and lesbians]”.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve got to go,” he said in September.
The Russian media and the authorities chose to largely ignore the singer’s comments at the concert and it is unclear if he or the concert promoters will face any action.
A spokesperson for the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods told the Novy Region news agency that John’s shows were “an insult to all Russian citizens” and make “a mockery of our recently enacted law against the public propaganda of gay ideas.”
Both Madonna and Lady Gaga spoke out against similar gay propaganda laws during their concerts in Russia last year.
Madonna was sued in St. Petersburg for $10.5 million by nine anti-gay groups in response. She, unsurprisingly, failed to attend the hearings and the case was ultimately dismissed.
Last month, however, the Lady Gaga concert promoter was fined around $614 for “propaganda of alcohol consumption and homosexuality.”
In September, it was reported that Russia refused to grant American pop singer Selena Gomez a visa over fears that she’d speak out for LGBT rights during her shows.
Watch John’s comments on LGBT equality at Friday’s concert below.