Madonna has declared she will not perform in Russia ever again, given the country’s strong stance on gay rights.
“I won’t appear in Moscow or St Petersburg anymore, because I don’t want to perform in places where being homosexual is tantamount to a crime,” she told Entertainment Weekly.
The Moscow Times reports
the announcement comes as the singer prepares for her forthcoming world tour, which starts in September and plays concerts in 35 cities across North America, Europe and Australia - and will not visit Russia.
When Madonna last performed in Russia back in 2012, she courted controversy after expressing public support for Pussy Riot, who at the time were standing trial for their performance of a punk prayer in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
The singer revealed
she had also been threatened with jail time by the Vladimir Putin government for comments “promoting gay behaviour”.
"Needless to say, I did not change one moment of my show. 87 of my fans were arrested for gay behaviour – whatever that is," she told fans at an Amnesty International concert.
“The right to be free, to speak our minds, to have an opinion, to love who we want to love, to be who we are – do we have to fight for that?
“I’ve always considered myself a freedom fighter since the early ‘80s when I realised I had a voice and I could sing more than songs about being a Material Girl
or feeling Like a Virgin
Conservative St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, who is known for his anti-LGBT views, said her absence would not impact Russian culture, calling the singer a "hypocritical old woman" who had prioritised gay rights over the lives of children suffering amid the eastern Ukraine conflict.
"These shameless hypocrites show their paraffin inflated muzzle only when it is politically convenient,” he said.
While homosexuality is legal in Russia, the LGBT community has suffered much discrimination following Putin's “LGBT propaganda” law, introduced in 2013 to outlaw the spread of information that may cause a “distorted understanding” that gay and heterosexual relations are “socially equivalent”.
Words by TROY NANKERVIS.