Elton John wants to meet Putin, slams Ukraine on LGBT equality

Elton John (Pic: David Shankbone)

Elton John (Pic: David Shankbone)

Singer Elton John has spoken out about LGBT equality in Russia and in the Ukraine on the weekend.

Addressing the Yalta European Strategy summit in Kiev on Saturday, the star was critical of the Ukraine’s human rights policies.

“Ukraine is falling behind the rest of Europe, I have to say, wake up Ukraine. Your stance on human rights will be a defining characteristic of the new Ukraine and there is no clearer touchstone on the issue of human rights than the respect and dignity afforded your LGBT citizens,” John told business and political leaders.

“A peaceful gay pride march had to be protected by twice as many police as marchers. This did not happen at a place far away, at a different time, it happened in this city, not far away from here, just a little while ago. Equality for the LGBT community may still be unthinkable for some people, but it is something Ukraine needs to reflect on and embrace. It is the right thing to do.”

In June, participants in the Kiev Pride march were attacked by a group of right-wing radicals who hurled smoke bombs and stones. Police offices, some of whom were injured, were able to protect the marchers and arrested around 30 assailants.

At the summit, John showed the audience statistics proving that countries that are more tolerant and accepting of LGBT people have higher GDPs.

“So being tolerant and inclusive is not only the morally right thing to do, for the new Ukraine, it’s the smart thing to do,” he said.

In an interview with the BBC after the conference, John also spoke about Russia’s repressive policies towards LGBT people. He called President Putin’s justification for passing anti-gay laws to protect children as “ridiculous”.

“I’d love to meet him, I’d love to sit down and talk to him,” said John. “I’d say to him… come on… Gay people are not the problem here. The world faces much bigger problems than gay people. Be accepting and let’s all pull together and try and solve the problems of the world… But don’t isolate and be prejudiced towards gay people.”

He admitted that the chances of influencing Putin are “probably pie in the sky,” adding: “He might laugh behind my back and then he shuts the door and call me an absolute idiot but at least I can have a conscience and say I’d tried.”

In 2013, Putin signed a law prohibiting the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual relationships. The “gay propaganda” law effectively bars any expression or discussion of homosexuality in public, on television, in print or on the internet.

Homosexuality is not illegal in the Ukraine but same-sex couples have no legal recognition. A Russian style “gay propaganda” law was partially passed by the Ukrainian Parliament in 2012 but has not become law.

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