John's 500-word statement comes a month after he performed in
the country and three days after Russian President Vladimir
Putin said his country was welcoming to gays, citing the
popularity of the openly gay 66-year-old singer as evidence.
The law has come under fire from human rights activists as
Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics next month.
During a visit to Moscow in December, John performed a concert
at which he condemned the law, and said he was keen to gain a
first-hand understanding of its effect on the LGBT community.
"What I heard reinforced all the media stories that have been
circling since the propaganda bill became federal law: that
vicious homophobia has been legitimized by this legislation and
given extremists the cover to abuse people's basic human
rights," John said.
"Everyone shared stories of verbal and physical abuse — at work,
in bars and restaurants or in the street — since the legislation
came into force last June," he said. He added that he would
welcome the chance to introduce Putin to gay Russians.
Russia's law bans the dissemination of "gay propaganda" among
minors, and has become a focal point of criticism by the West
and human rights activists who say the law is discriminatory and
represents a crackdown on rights and freedoms under Putin.
"THE REAL SITUATION"
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev defended the law in an
interview with CNN and said the Western criticism "has nothing
in common with the real situation in our country and with the
rights of representatives of sexual minorities."
According to a transcript published on his government's website,
Medvedev said Russian gays are not complaining about the law or
its effects on the way they are treated.
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"Speaking honestly, I have not seen a single appeal,
even on the Internet, from representatives of sexual minorities in
which they say that their rights are being infringed upon," he said.
Putin has addressed the controversy around the law with journalists
several times in the past weeks ahead of next month's Winter Olympic
Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, a showcase that Russia hopes
will burnish its image abroad.
He invoked John as proof that Russians do not discriminate against
"Millions of our people sincerely love him despite
his orientation," Putin told foreign journalists on Sunday. Putin
also said that he had gay acquaintances and told the BBC that he
would "definitely" talk with gay celebrities like John and actor Ian
The "Tiny Dancer" singer became a target of the law's supporters
last September when a parents' group asked Putin to cancel John's
December concerts in Moscow and Kazan. John first performed in the
former Soviet Union in 1979.
John, one of the world's most prominent gay celebrities who has two
children with his partner, said the law has also promoted
misunderstanding and ignorance among the Russian people, and implies
that gays are dangerous to children.
"In particular, it is very disappointing that the law explicitly
links homosexuality with child sex abuse, which countless studies
have shown to be conclusively wrong," said John who has campaigned
for gay rights.
(Additional reporting by Steve Gutterman
in Moscow; editing by Mary Milliken and David Gregorio)
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