Russian anti-gay lawmaker challenges Sir Elton John to verbal duel
St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, known for his relentless lobbying of laws countering ‘gay propaganda’, says he wants to discuss the situation of LGBT rights in Europe in a public debate with British pop star Elton John.
Milonov told popular Russian daily Izvestia he was confident in his ability to prove that the activities of the LGBT community was both non-viable and extremely harmful for traditional society. He also added that he was ready to participate in the debate anywhere in the world.
In the same interview, Milonov accused gay activists of destroying Europe, saying a society without traditional moral standards soon loses the ability to protect itself, falling victim to various “external factors.”
The lawmaker, known for his pro-Christian views, added there was no sense in trying to convince Elton John by invoking the authority of the Church.
“The clergy’s opinions would not be of any importance for this British singer,” Milonov said.
John’s PR manager Gary Farrow has said that at present moment the singer is not ready for debates.
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Milonov’s invitation was prompted by John’s statement that he would like to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and discuss the situation with gay rights in Russia. The singer also noted that he didn’t expect much from such talks, but wanted to hold them anyway as he considered the problem very important.
However, on Monday evening John posted Vladimir Putin’s photo on his Instagram page, writing that the Russian president had personally reached him by phone.
“I look forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia,” the singer added, suggesting that the planned meeting had been arranged.
But the Kremlin has brusquely dismissed the singer's claims.
“I don’t know who Sir Elton talked with, but I can responsibly say that Vladimir Putin has not spoken to Sir Elton John,” Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the media during a conference call on Tuesday evening.
Peskov also insisted that the Russian leader received no offers to meet in person, but “if the president receives an indication that Elton John wants to talk, he is open to discussing any societal problems and issues.”
“Putin is always ready to explain how things really are,” summed up Peskov.
Putin has repeatedly denied that the 2013 Russian legislative changes are discriminatory or oppressive, saying that the ban only concerns propaganda to minors.
“There is no ban for homosexual relations in Russia, yet propaganda of homosexuality among minors – and pedophilia in particular – is prohibited,” Putin said in 2014 during a major press conference dedicated to Sochi Winter Olympics.
READ MORE: ‘Leave children alone’ – Putin on gay rights in Russia
“We neither disallow anything [homosexual] nor bust anybody [who’s gay], we have no criminal liability for such relations – as opposed to many other countries of the world,” the president emphasized. “So you can feel calm and relaxed – but leave the children alone, please,” Putin demanded.