Ellie Goulding boycotts Putin over anti-gay laws

The singer turned down a request to sing at the Sochi opening ceremony

Ellie Goulding has said she will refuse to perform for President Putin in protest at Russia’s anti-gay laws.

The chart-topping singer said she would follow the example set by Cher, who rejected an approach to perform at the opening ceremony for the Sochi Winter Olympics next week as a protest against legislation which makes it illegal to teach under-18s about homosexuality.

Goulding, who has sold 5 million albums, told the Hollywood Reporter: “It’s probably a 'no' for Russia.”

The "Burn" singer said she supported Cher, who turned down a request to open the Games saying: “I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there.”

The Herefordshire singer, 27, previously expressed her support for Pussy Riot, the Russian punk group jailed two years ago on hooliganism charges. Their jail sentence was “insanity”, Ms Goulding tweeted at the time.

Artists are divided over whether to support a full boycott of Russia. Sir Elton John defied calls to cancel his Moscow concert but used the visit to speak out against the laws, which he said legitimised homophobia and provided legal cover to extremists.

The International Olympics Committee has been urging Russian president Vladimir Putin to ensure there is no discrimination against homosexual people during the Winter Games.

Anatoly Pakhomov, a Kremlin loyalist and member of ruling party United Russia, told the BBC that gay visitors to Sochi, where the Olympics open on Feb 7, were welcome as long as they did not “impose their habits on others.”

Sir Elton, described by Vladimir Putin last weekend as an “extraordinary person . . . regardless of his orientation”, rejected the President’s attempted olive branch.

The singer wrote on his website that during his visit to Moscow he had met gay and lesbian people who had received vicious threats from vigilante groups.

Stephen Fry called for a boycott of the Winter Games, held at the Black Sea resort, which he called the modern equivalent of taking part in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

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