Blondie Rejects Sochi Performance Invite, Cites Russian Human Rights Record

AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Meanwhile, the head of Russia's Orthodox Church was quoted saying that gay marriage presents a threat to human civilization.

MOSCOW – Blondie has revealed that they rejected an offer to perform at the Sochi Olympics because of Russia's human rights violations, including the country's recent anti-gay laws. 

On her Twitter account, Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry published a scan of the printed offer to perform at the Red Rocks festival in Sochi during the Olympics on Feb. 13, on which she wrote: "Pass. Human Rights."

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The offer was to perform a 45-minute set for a 25,000-person crowd at one of the Olympics' main venues, Sochi Medals Plaza. The Russian media reported that Blondie's slot is to be taken by the Latvian band Brainstorm and Russian singer Diana Arbenina.

By criticizing Russia's human rights record and treatment of the gay community, Harry joined a growing number of other major Western stars, including Madonna and Elton John.

Meanwhile, Patriarch Cyril, head of the Russian Orthodox church, lashed out against gay marriage, loosely likening gays to "pagans." The church leader was quoted by the Russian wire service Interfax as saying that gay marriages present a threat to human civilization.

"Never before in the history of humankind was the state law used to justify sin," he said, referring to the adoption of gay marriage laws in a number of countries. "Even the pagans didn't have anything like that, although the pagans' understanding of sin was very vague."

Last year, Russia adopted a law against "gay propaganda for minors," which many view as homophobic and a thinly veiled legal assault on the local gay community.