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17 Oct, 2012 14:41

(Don’t) Express yourself: Russian anti-gay activists send Madonna official summons

Antigay Russian activists have obtained Madonna’s home address in New York City and sent her a summons to show up at a Russian court. Nine plaintiffs are desperate to make "Madge" pay after suffering “moral damages” at her gig in St. Petersburg.

Another summons was issued to the address of Madonna’s gym Hard Candy in central Moscow. However, gym staff insist they have not received any letter from St. Petersburg, and thus can’t inform their Big Boss. The pro-Kremlin group Trade Union of Russian Citizens wants the Material Girl in court for blasphemy and for damaging the cultural foundations of St. Petersburg. Nine activists filed a suit against the pop star after her concert on August 9. They are seeking 333 million rubles (around US$10 million) from Madonna and from the company that organized her show. All the fuss is because of Madonna’s actions on the stage. The pop diva started her show asking fans to raise their hands with pink bracelets, which they were given on the entrance, in support of homosexual rights.It is, however, illegal to promote homosexuality in St. Petersburg. The local law, which bans so-called “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, and pedophilia to minors,” was passed in March this year.

Activists claim the pop star broke this law. Moreover, they say children as young as 12 were at the concert, prompting the question, why were they there? The complaint also includes a video taken of the concert that depicts Madonna allegedly stomping on an Orthodox cross.“She insulted believers’ feelings, she promoted homosexuality when there were children at the concert and this is forbidden in St Petersburg. We, the residents of the cultural capital, suffered a colossal moral damage,” union spokesperson Darya Dedova was quoted as saying.However, Madonna has not still responded to any of the complaints, nor did she appear in court. The first hearing into the $10 million lawsuit took place on October 11, but it was postponed until October 25. Plaintiffs did not know Madonna’s address in the US and thus were unable to notify the pop star. At the same time, there are some details which may weaken the activist’ position in court. First, all tickets contained a recommendation saying that only over-18s should attend the concert. In such a case, parents of minors are responsible for allowing them to be there and seeing what they saw.Second, there is video evidence which, however, was shot without any official permission, itself a violation.

According to a recently-adopted St Petersburg law, if the defendant is found guilty she will have to pay an additional 50 per cent of the ordered compensation as a fine that will go to the city budget, Dedova said. The union promised to use the money to protect city residents from homosexuality and pedophilia.This law, which is only in force in St. Petersburg, caused a string of protests from Russian and international gay rights organizations, with one Russian activist even suing its author over damage to his reputation.