A prominent Russian Orthodox Church theologian has called on the government to deny a visa to Madonna, who plans to lend her support to the gay community in St. Petersburg during an upcoming concert in the city.
Madonna pledged her support to the gay community following March 7 passage of a law in St. Petersburg that bans promotion of gay culture and pedophelia among minors.
Archdeacon Andrei Kurayev, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy, urged the St. Petersburg authorities to ask the Foreign Ministry to deny a visa for Madonna, “because the purpose of her visit, as she put it herself, is to violate [regional] Russian law.”
Madonna who is scheduled to tour St. Petersburg with her new album on August 9, came out in defense of sexual minorities in her facebook account, saying she would “speak up for the gay community… and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels oppressed” during her concert.
Kurayev also called on ordinary citizens to express their opinion. “It is very important that various people, perhaps public organizations, could say they would assess St. Petersburg authorities depending on how they behave in this situation,” he said.
But he warned against any public protest from believers against Madonna’s concert, saying it would only provide extra advertising.
If she violates the new St. Petersburg law, Madonna would have to pay a fine of 5,000 rubles ($170) and the concert organizers would face tougher sanctions.
The bill came into force on March 17. The St. Petersburg LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) group Coming Out said the bill was “homophobic” and aimed at diverting public attention from Russia’s “real political and social problems.”
The law was also proposed to be made into a federal law by Siberian legislators. It follows similar legislation in the southern Astrakhan region and the central Ryazan and Kostroma regions.
Homosexuality was illegal in the Soviet Union and was only decriminalized by President Boris Yeltsin in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment is still widespread.