Moscow: 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 during an upcoming concert in St. Petersburg. Madonna pledged her support to the gay community following the passage of a law March 7 in St. Petersburg that bans promotion of gay culture.
Archdeacon Andrei Kurayev, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy, urged the St. Petersburg city 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 Russian law".
Madonna is scheduled to tour St. Petersburg with her new album August 9. The singer has come out in defence 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 organisations, 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 against Madonna`s concert, saying it would only provide extra advertising. If she violates the new law, Madonna would have to pay a fine of 5,000 rubles ($170) and the concert organisers would face tougher sanctions.
The bill came into force March 17. The 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".
Homosexuality was illegal in the Soviet Union and was only decriminalised by former Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment is still widespread.