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Elton John has responded to a recent interview Vladimir Putin conducted with the Financial Times, in which the Russian president called the number of gender categories “excessive” and said he did not want LGBT culture to “overshadow” Russian heterosexual culture.
In an open letter to Putin that the singer sent Friday, the singer-songwriter said, “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.”
Added John, “I find duplicity in your comment that you want LGBT people to ‘be happy’ and that ‘we have no problem in that,'” given how Russia censored the recent biopic of John’s life, Rocketman: Russian censors cut scenes depicting gay sex and drug consumption; at the Moscow premiere, even a mention of the children John is raising with his partner, David Furnish, was removed. “This feels like hypocrisy to me,” John said.
The performer added that he was “proud” to live in “a part of the world” that recognized same-sex love and marriage. “This has brought us both tremendous comfort and happiness,” John said, before ending his letter with the hasthtags #LOVEISLOVE and #WORLDPRIDE.
In the Times interview John was responding to, which ran on Thursday, Putin said of LGBT individuals, “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.” He added, “But some things do appear excessive to us. They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles.”
The Russian president then clarified his comments, saying, “Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.”
This isn’t the first time that Putin and John have communicated on the issue of gay rights. In 2015, after a prank call that John received from what he believed to be Putin, in which he discussed the status of LGBT individuals, the two actually spoke on the phone, according to the Kremlin. Though John planned to meet Putin in person to discuss the issue in 2016, they could find “no appropriate time” in their schedules, according to the Kremlin.
After news of Rocketman‘s censoring in Russia broke in May, John said in a statement, “That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended, is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.”
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