Sir Elton John is speaking out against Russia and its treatment of LGBT people. The gay icon is sick of discrimination and took an opportunity this week to slam the country’s homophobic government and the harmful ideologies and practices it perpetuates.
Speaking at a press conference at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, the venerable musician said, “We’re here to protect them and for everyone who’s HIV [positive] but especially for the LGBT community that has suffered so badly and is still suffering and it makes me crazy.” He added: “If there wasn’t this discrimination we could get rid of the disease far quicker.”
John has been a long-time luminary for the LGBTQ community and a prominent voice for people with HIV/AIDS, given his dedication to his AIDS Foundation. After launching further funding for local partners of the foundation in Eastern Europe, he expressed his concern with Russia’s homophobia.
“Until we get that idea out of our head that gay people are ‘less than’ then I am afraid we will still be sitting here in 20 years time discussing the same thing,” he insisted, elaborating, “To be an LGBT person in Russia is very difficult.”
Experts have warned of a looming HIV/AIDS crisis in Eastern Europe and central Asia, where numbers of those affected by the deadly disease are currently rising. Sir Elton John expressed how difficult it was to work in a conservative, homophobic country with discriminatory policies.
“We know what we are up against. We are not stupid,” he explained. “People have asked me to boycott Russia but you can’t boycott people.”
At the conference, Sir Elton John announced a new joint initiative with the Duke of Sussex. The two men are dedicated to tackling HIV infection in men, and the artist lauded the Duke for his passion and commitment to this issue.