Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters this weekend that musician Elton John is “mistaken” about his attitude towards LGBT rights, arguing that his people remain “very neutral” about the issue.
The war of words between the two men began last week after Putin gave an interview to The Financial Times where he argued that anti-LGBT attitudes were not prevalent in Russia.
“I am not trying to insult anyone because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia,” Putin said in the interview published Thursday. “But we have no problem with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish. But some things do appear excessive to us. They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles.”
John took to Twitter to express his disapproval of the interview, saying he was left “deeply upset” by Putin’s remarks and pointing to the fact that gay sex scenes and references to John’s same-sex marriage with David Furnish and their raising of adopted children were scrubbed from the recent biopic film Rocketman under Russia’s law against gay “propaganda.”
Dear President Putin,
I was deeply upset when I read your recent interview in the Financial Times.
I strongly disagree with your view that pursuing policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity are obsolete in our societies. pic.twitter.com/wNG3imaR2r
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) June 28, 2019
“Dear President Putin, I was deeply upset when I read your recent interview in the Financial Times,” he wrote on Twitter. “I strongly disagree with your view that pursuing policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity are obsolete in our societies.”
I find duplicity in your comment that 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.
This feels like hypocrisy to me. I am proud to live in a part of the world where our governments have evolved to recognise the universal human right to love whoever we want.
And I’m truly grateful for the advancement in government policies that have allowed and legally supported my marriage to David. This has brought us both tremendous comfort and happiness. Respectfully, Elton John.
When asked about Elton John’s comments during the G20 summit in Osaka on Saturday, Putin responded: “I have a lot of respect for him, he is a genius musician, we all enjoy his music, but I think he is mistaken.”
“I didn’t overstate anything,” Putin continued. “We have a law that everybody is angry at us because of the law that doesn’t allow propaganda of homosexuals among underage population. Let’s let the kids grow and then let them decide what they want to do.”
Russian legislation against “homosexual propaganda” outlaws the dissemination of material aimed at children that “denies traditional family values.” The country also does not recognize civil partnerships or same-sex marriages.
The issue of gay rights in Russia has long been of interest to Elton John, having once been famously duped into believing he was discussing the issue with Putin over the phone. After publicly revealing the contents of the supposed conversation, the singer was later left red-faced after it emerged that he had fallen for a prank.