Elton John penned an open letter to Vladimir Putin Friday criticizing the Russian president’s policies toward the LGBTQ community. The letter, published to John’s Facebook, follows Russia’s decision to censor five minutes of Rocketman due to the country’s “homosexual propaganda” law, as well as comments Putin made about sexual diversity in a recent interview.
“I am not trying to insult anyone because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia. But we have no problem with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish,” Putin told the Financial Times. “But some things do appear excessive to us. They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles.”
In response, John wrote to Putin in his open letter, “I was deeply upset when I read your recent interview in the Financial Times. I strongly disagree with your view that pursuing policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity are obsolete in our societies.”
John continued, “I find duplicity in your comment that you want LGBT people to ‘be happy’ and that ‘we have no problem in that.’ Yet Russian distributors chose to heavily censor my film Rocketman by removing all references to my finding true happiness through my 25-year relationship with David and the raising of my two beautiful sons. This feels like hypocrisy to me.”
Following the release of Rocketman in Russia, John and the filmmakers released a joint statement slamming Russian censors for removing “all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut out,” a Russian film critic revealed. The Russian version also removed the film’s postscript that stated John and his partner were raising children.
“I am proud to live in a part of the world where our governments have evolved to recognize the universal human right to love whoever we want,” John added.
At the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Putin responded to John’s open letter. “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 said (via Reuters), adding that Russia has a “relaxed and unprejudiced” attitude toward LGBT people but minors need to be “left alone.”