Russian President Vladimir Putin says Elton John is mistaken about the rights of LGBTs in Russia, after the artist condemned the Russian leader for denying the problems of that community in his country.
"I have a lot of respect for him, he is a genius musician, we all enjoy his music, but I think he is mistaken," Putin told a press conference after the G20 Summit in the Japanese city of Osaka on Saturday, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.
He said on the contrary that the Russian government has a "relaxed and unprejudiced" attitude toward the LGBT community.
In April 2017, however, the daily Novaya Gazeta reported that dozens of men were seized, tortured and slain in Chechnya for their sexual orientation or suspected sexual orientation.
Elton John said on his Instagram account that he was "deeply upset" by an interview that Putin gave on the eve of the G20 Summit to the UK's Financial Times newspaper, in which he said that "the liberal idea has become obsolete".
"I strongly disagree with your view that pursuing policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity are obsolete in our societies. I find duplicity in your comment that you want LGBT people to 'be happy' and that 'we have no problem in that'" in Russia, Elton John wrote in an open letter to Putin.
The artist called the Russian president's statement "hypocrisy," particularly considering that the Russian distributor of Rocketman, a biographical movie about Elton John, cut various scenes of gay sex and drug use from the film.
According to a 2019 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA Europe), Russia ranks 46th out of 49 European countries in terms of respect for the rights of the LGBTI community and the fight against discrimination.
Australian Associated Press