Elton John's Russian tour at risk of cancellation over anti-gay laws

The singer's December gigs have been threatened due to fears he may spread 'gay propaganda'

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The Independent Culture

Elton John's forthcoming gigs in Russia could be cancelled due to the country's strict new law banning LGBT rights propaganda.

The British singer is due to perform at Crocus City Hall in Moscow and the Tatneft Arena in Kazan later this week.

The new law could threaten Sir Elton's shows from going ahead after the singer said he had deliberately chosen to tour in Russia to show solidarity with gay citizens “suffering in an isolated situation”.

“I’ve got to go and I’ve got to think about what I’m going to say very carefully,” he told the Guardian in September. “As a gay man, I can’t leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I’ve got to go.”

Earlier this year, a Russian parents’ committee asked president Vladimir Putin to cancel the singer's December concerts in an open letter, arguing that the 66-year-old singer would be violating the “homosexual propaganda” ban by performing.

The message, which was reported in local media, read: “The singer intends to come out in support of local sodomites and break the current Russian law, directed at protecting children.”

Another petition, by the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods, referred to the planned gigs as "amoral sabbath" and called Sir Elton's "support for gays and other perverts" an "insult to all Russian citizens".

The singer was told not to wear "flamboyant" clothes suggestive of his gay lifestyle on stage when he was due to play in the Russian region of Krasnodar in July. The show was later cancelled when Sir Elton fell ill.

Russia’s controversial new laws have led to calls to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics, due to be hosted in the country’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Broadcaster Stephen Fry urged prime minister David Cameron to support the calls to strip Russia of its Olympics host title, saying that the country was “making scapegoats of gay people”.

LGBT rights supporter Cher turned down the opportunity to sing at the opening of the games because of “gay hate”, calling her decision an immediate “no brainer”.

Madonna and Lady Gaga have also publicly condemned the anti-gay law while on stage in St Petersburg, leading to a harsher visa regime being implemented for performers touring in Russia.

Homosexuality was legalised in Russia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 but the new 2013 ruling has made it illegal to give under-18s information about homosexuality.