By Alex Temblador
Russia has been in the news lately when it comes to LGBT rights. First, we learned that the World Cup will be hosted in Russia in 2018 which caused a backlash among many well-known LGBT soccer players like Robbie Rogers. With Russia’s anti-gay laws and intense homophobia, Robbie Rogers has even stated that he will be “extremely flamboyant” in protest to these laws if he joins the U.S. national team for the World Cup.
Then there was the owner of an online LGBT community for teens, Deti-404 or Children-404, who was fined for violating Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law which says that it is illegal to spread or share information about “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors or adults. Soon after, we heard Russia created a “straight pride” flag and that LGBT activists were arrested for trying to hold a gay pride rally.
Recently, we even watched the homophobia and hate that permeates the country in a YouTube video. YouTubers ChebuRussiaTV decided to do a social experiment in Moscow. The two men walked through the city holding hands and were physically and verbally abused by many onlookers.
It is clear through these examples in the last few months that Russia has a problem with homophobia and their attitude toward their LGBT community is to suppress and criminalize their ability to gather, share, help, and educate each other and their communities.
Although living in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world, we may feel unable to battle Russia’s actions toward the LGBT community. However, this is not the case as pop legend, Madonna, has recently revealed. Madonna has stated that she will not be returning to Russia to perform. She stated, “I won’t appear in Moscow or St. Petersburg anymore, because I don’t want to perform in places where being homosexual is tantamount to a crime.”
This isn’t the first time that Madonna has tried to combat Russia’s anti-gay laws or homophobia. In 2012, Madonna spoke out against the arrest of Pussy Riot, a pro-gay, feminist punk rock band. She even told her fans at one concert: “The gay community, gay people, here and all around the world have the same rights…to be treated with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love.”
In response to her support of Russia’s LGBT community, she received death threats, was sued, and almost fined $10 million for violating the anti-gay propaganda law. Eventually the courts dropped the case.
When speaking about not performing in Russia, Madonna said:
“What I realized when I went to Russia, and saw what was going on with Pussy Riot, and what was going on with the gay community, was how lucky I was and am to live in a country where I can speak my mind.
It’s time for the rest of the world to be as brave as Pussy Riot, to stand up against people like President Putin that do not respect human rights, and perpetuate oppression, discrimination, and injustice of any kind.”
Even though her last album, Rebel Heart, topped the charts in Russia, Russians won’t be able to see their favorite pop star on stage again unless their government makes a change such as abolishing their anti-gay laws. Madonna’s actions brings up a huge question. If other celebrities like Madonna refuse to perform in Russia, if FIFA refuses to hold the World Cup in Russia, if other businesses and companies refuse to do business with Russia because of their anti-LGBT laws and unfair treatment of the LGBT community, could the world pressure a country like Russia to change? We think so. And so does Madonna:
“We all have a moral obligation to stand up for anyone who’s being persecuted, whether it’s down the street from us, or on the other side of the world.”
Featured photo by choupigloupi