Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that British singer Elton John is mistaken about the rights of LGBTs in Russia.
“I have a lot of respect for him, he is a genius musician, we all enjoy his music, but I think he is mistaken,” Putin said on Saturday during a press conference after the G20 Summit in the Japanese city of Osaka, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.
He said that the Russian government has a “relaxed and unprejudiced” attitude towards the LGBT community, Efe news reported.
Putin’s remarks came after the artist slammed the Russian leader over the community’s problems in the country.
In April 2017, however, the daily Novaya Gazeta reported that dozens of men were seized, tortured and slain in Chechnya for their sexual orientation or suspected sexual orientation.
Elton John said on his Instagram account that he was “deeply upset” by an interview that Putin gave on the eve of the G20 Summit to the UK’s Financial Times newspaper, in which he said that “the liberal idea has become obsolete”.
“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’ in Russia,” Elton John wrote in an open letter to Putin.
The artist condemned the Russian President’s statement, calling it “hypocrisy”, particularly considering that the Russian distributor of “Rocketman”, a biographical movie about Elton John, cut various scenes of gay sex and drug use from the film.
According to a 2019 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA Europe), Russia ranks 46th out of 49 European countries in terms of respect for the rights of the LGBTI community and the fight against discrimination.
Mentioned in the report are a number of members of that community who were attacked in St. Petersburg and Moscow, LGBT events that were banned or interrupted, Web sites that were blocked on grounds they were spewing “propaganda,” and violations of the gay community’s human rights in Chechnya.
Amnesty International (AI) recently recalled the “gay purges” in Chechnya that were inflicted in 2017 and went on until 2018.
Putin said in the Financial Times interview that “the liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population”.
“I am not trying to insult anyone because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia. But we have no problem with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish. But some things do appear excessive to us,” Putin said at the G20 Summit.