Anti-gay activists in Russia have sued Madonna for $10.5 million, saying she contravened Russian law by openly promoting homosexuality to minors during her concert in St. Petersburg.
The Guardian reports a group of nine Russian anti-gay activists are suing Madonna, saying she insulted their feelings by speaking in support of gay rights at the St. Petersburg concert last week. According to the lawsuit, there were children as young as 12 at Madonna's August 9 concert.
The Guardian reports Madonna condemned a St. Petersburg law that imposes fines for spreading "homosexual propaganda." Before the concert, she had described the law as a "ridiculous atrocity."
According to The Telegraph, although homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993, anti-gay feelings are strong in Russia. A law passed in St. Petersburg in February, prohibits anyone promoting homosexuality to minors.
Alexander Pochuyev, lawyer representing the nine anti-gay activists, said the suit was filed against Madonna, the organizer of the concert and the owners of the hall where the concert was held. The activists are asking for damages of 333 million Russian roubles, equivalent to nearly $10.5 million.
Pochuyev, commenting on criticisms that the plaintiffs were "stuck in the Middle Ages," said they had only resorted to legitimate means for redress after Madonna "insulted their feelings" by speaking in support of gay rights. Pochuyev said: "No one is burning anyone at the stake or carrying out an Inquisition. Modern civilisation requires tolerance and respect for different values."
Darya Dedova, one of the activists who filed the law suit in a St. Petersburg court, said: "She (Madonna) had been warned with words that she should behave in line with the law and she ignored it. So we will speak in the language of money. Of course, it is difficult to measure moral damages and suffering but maybe people who earn money regardless of moral rules will better understand this."
Dedova said if they won the case, the would donate the money to orphanages. Alexei Kolotkov, another of the activists, said: "Maybe someone does not see the link but after Madonna's concert maybe some boy becomes gay, some girl becomes lesbian, fewer children are born as a result and this big country cannot defend its borders - for me it causes moral suffering."
The Telegraph reports the complaint includes a video showing Madonna trampling on an Orthodox cross during the concert. The video also shows her asking fans to raise their arms and show pink armbands in support of LGBT people.
The Guardian reports that a new anti-gay bill before the national parliament in Russia is modeled after the St. Petersburg anti-gay law. The pro-gay community in Russia has expressed fears that the new bill would be used to clamp down on the LGBT community. Recently, an appeal court upheld a lower court's ruling that allowed city authorities to reject applications by LGBT activists to hold gay pride parades. The ruling also upheld a law that bans gay pride parades from taking place in the city for the next 100 years.
Madonna, according to The Telegraph, offended conservative Russians when she openly expressed support for the three members of Pussy Riot who were sentenced on Friday to two years in prison after they protested against Vladimir Putin inside Moscow's central cathedral. Madonna spoke in support of the group, calling on "all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment."