Lady Gaga upsets Russian conservatives with gay support message


Lady Gaga is the latest artist to offend the sensibilities of Russian conservatives after the pop star spoke out for gay rights at a weekend concert in St Petersburg. Vitaly Milonov, a conservative MP who authored a controversial law banning “homosexual propaganda” in Russia’s cultural capital, said he would ask prosecutors to investigate Lady Gaga for breaking the law. “We will contact prosecutors and the law enforcement agencies to carry out a thorough investigation of the situation,” Milonov told Life News, a Kremlin-friendly tabloid. “When people tell kids ‘you must support sexual minorities’, that can create a false equivalence for them between traditional and non-traditional relationships.” Lady Gaga, who has long campaigned for gay rights in the US, used her first appearance in Russia to show her support for gay people in the country. Speaking through a translator from the stage, she called for respect for gay rights, saying: “Lady Gaga wants to say that she expects respect from others – she’s not here to offend anyone’s religion or faith, she’s here to unite us.” Russia put Madonna on trial in absentia last month after a group of conservative and Russian Orthodox activists sued the pop star for $10.7m, claiming distress at her violation of the anti-homosexual propaganda law during a summer concert in St Petersburg. A St Petersburg court threw out the case.
Artists in Russia have begun warning of a new “iron curtain” falling over the country, as ever more western stars become targets of the country’s crackdown on culture. Last week, prosecutors in St Petersburg opened an investigation into the Hermitage museum after complaints that an exhibit by British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman showed signs of extremism. Responding to the investigation, the Chapman brothers said in a statement: “Note to selves: remember, forget Russia.”
The campaign against western artists has grown since the jailing of the punk band Pussy Riot, a case that highlighted the crackdown on freedom of expression in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
“Soon decent people will stop coming here, and all normal people will leave,” celebrated director Kirill Serebrennikov wrote in response to the Hermitage investigation. “And only idiots will remain, who will swarm around their puddles of oil and talk to each other about ‘world conspiracy’, ‘religious feelings’, and ‘homosexual propaganda’. The iron curtain is a product of our own making.”
Before performing on Sunday, Lady Gaga wrote a message on Twitter thanking Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister, for declining to support a bill that would ban “homosexual propaganda” throughout the country. Medvedev laughed off the bill, due to be considered on 19 December, during a televised interview last week.