On Friday, singer-songwriter Elton John dedicated his concert in Moscow to Vladislav Tornovoi, a 23-year-old gay man tortured to death in southwest Russia in May. He also took a moment during the show to address Russia’s new anti-gay law, which allows for fining and detaining gay and pro-gay individuals, and bans what is deemed homosexual propaganda to minors. Via Joe Jervis, here’s the transcript:
You took me to your hearts all these years ago and you’ve always welcomed me with warmth and open arms every time I visited [Russia]. You have always embraced me and you have never judged me. So I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia. In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating. Some people have demanded that because of this legislation, I must not come here to Russia. But many, many more people asked me to come and I listened to them. I love coming here.
I want to show them and the world that I care and that I don’t believe in isolating people. Music is a very powerful thing. It brings people together irrespective of their age, their race, their sexuality, or their religion. It does not discriminate. Look around you tonight. You see men, women, young and old, gay and straight. Thousands of happy Russian people enjoying the music. We’re all here together in harmony, and harmony is what makes a happy family and a strong society.
The spirit we share tonight is what builds a future of equality, love and compassion for my children and for your children. Please don’t leave it behind when you leave tonight. Each and every one of you, please, keep this spirit in your life and in your heart. I wish you love and peace and health and happiness. And this show is dedicated to the memory of Vladislav Tornovoi.
Russian gigs by pop stars Madonna and Lady Gaga—who both expressed support for the LGBT community during their performances—were met with legal backlash and controversy. The artists’ St. Petersburg shows in August and December 2012, respectively, resulted in court cases. A $10 million lawsuit against Madonna was thrown out; Russian concert promoters of Lady Gaga’s show were fined a symbolic $614. It is not clear at this time what the legal consequences will be for John.
Here’s more footage from his Friday performance in Moscow: