Sir Elton John wants to have tea with Vladimir Putin and change his mind about gay rights

Singer says Russia's policies regarding LGBT rights are 'ridiculous'

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The Independent Online

Sir Elton John has said he wants to sit down with Vladimir Putin over a cup of tea and discuss what he called Russia’s “prejudice” against gay people.

The singer was speaking in Ukraine after meeting President Petro Poroshenko to discuss that country’s policies on LGBT rights.

In an interview with the BBC, Sir Elton said that while he used to only reach out to people through his music, his methods had changed as he grew older and more “mature”.

The star first played Moscow in 1979 and said he “like[s] the Russians”, but described the government’s stance there on gay people as “ridiculous”.

Russia passed a law in 2013 banning “propaganda” or teaching that might “promote homosexual behaviour among minors”. Last year, Mr Putin himself said gay people were welcome to the Winter Olympics in Russia as long as they “leave kids alone”.

Sir Elton described such comments as “stupid”, and said he would like to sit down the Russian president to talk him round.

“I’d love to meet him,” he said. “It's probably pie in the sky, but I’d love to meet him and say, ‘come on, let’s have a cup of tea let’s talk about this’.

“He may laugh behind my back when he shuts the door, and call me an absolute idiot, but at least I can have a conscience, to say I tried.”

Asked what he would say to Mr Putin, Sir Elton said: “I would tell him gay people are not the problem of the world. [I’d say] be accepting, let’s all pull together to solve the problems of the world – but don’t isolate and don’t be prejudiced against gay people.”

The star indicated on social media that his meeting with Ukraine’s president had been a success, and thanked Mr Poroshenko for his “support”.

He said on Instagram: “After speaking at the YES Ukraine 2015 Conference today in Kiev, I met with Ukraine President Poroshenko about the importance of legislative changes to support LGBT rights.

“Specifically, I asked him to: 1. Ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexuality and gender identity. 2. Provide criminal penalties for hate crimes.

“We need Ukrainian businessmen and power brokers to create a more inclusive and tolerant society. We need this everywhere!”