Russian president Vladimir Putin doubled down on his attack on western liberalism on Saturday, using a post-G20 press conference to rant against musician and activist Elton John’s criticism of his record on LGBT+ rights.
“They’ve thought up six or five genders – transformers, trans... I don’t even understand what it is myself,” he said. “They need to stop violently imposing their point of view on others.”
The British singer had earlier accused the Russian president of demonstrating hypocrisy in comments he made in an interview with the Financial Times. Mr Putin not only railed against the liberal idea and “excessive” homosexuality in general, but also claimed that the west had got Russia wrong when it came to LGBT+ rights and homophobia.
“I am not trying to insult anyone, because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia,” he said. “We have no problems with LGBT+ persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish … Let everyone be happy.”
Writing on social media, Mr John said he found “duplicity” in those comments.
“[You say] you want LGBT+ people to ‘be happy’ and that ‘we have no problem in that’. Yet Russian distributors chose to heavily censor my film Rocketman by removing all references to my finding true happiness through my 25-year relationship with David and the raising of my two beautiful sons,” the singer said.
In May of this year, the Rocketman biopic appeared in Russian cinemas without scenes showing explicit homosexual relations and drug use. Initially, authorities claimed they had not pressured distributors to cut the scenes. Later, however, Vladimir Medinsky, the ultra conservative minister for culture, admitted the distributor would have “had problems getting certification” had they not done so.
At the time, the British singer issued a statement rejecting “in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market”.
Mr Putin, who said he “respected Mr John as a genius musician”, used his post-G20 address to offer a firm defence of Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda” law. The vaguely worded legislation, passed in 2013, went a long way to creating a toxic environment for LGBT+ Russians.
On the propaganda law, Mr Putin said: “Elton John is wrong, we have equable relations. We have a law that everyone needles us about. The law is about banning propaganda of homosexuality among minors. Give people a chance to grow up, let them become adults, decide who they are. Leave the kids alone.”
The LGBT+ community had, in the Russian president’s view become too “violent” in their advocacy.
“This part of society is trying to impose their point of view. They should be more loyal. They go to school and try to impose their views on people. The parents don’t want it – and they are almost sent to prison for their troubles.”
The Russian president appeared to be referring to the controversy around LGBT+ relationship lessons at Anderton Park primary school in Birmingham.
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