Madonna's Facebook post on the controversy surrounding her St. Petersburg show.
MOSCOW -- Madonna's new album "MDNA" may have come out today, but a concert scheduled for Aug. 9 in St. Petersburg is already causing controversy. Gay rights activists and others in Russia's second largest city are calling on Madonna to cancel her show to protest the city's recently-adopted anti-gay regulations.
Political activists, the city's gay community and a recent editorial in the International Herald Tribune have called on Madonna to boycott St. Petersburg to protest the "homosexuality propaganda" bill passed by the St. Petersburg city council in late February and enacted on March 7. The new law makes it a punishable offense to have "public actions directed at the propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors." The sweeping law would mean public activities such as gay pride parades or artists' shows expressing LGBT themes could be fined or shut down.
The singer responded on her Facebook page (see above), saying she will use the show to express her support of the local gay community. "I will come to St. Petersburg to speak up for the gay community, to support the gay community and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels oppressed," she said, "I don't run away from adversity. I will speak during my show about this ridiculous atrocity."
If that is the case, the show itself could fall under the controversial law and the singer and the promoter could face fines. "In case Madonna or the concert's organizer violate the city law, they will face punishment," Vitaly Milonov, a member of the city's legislative assembly and one of the authors of the controversial law, was quoted as saying to the Interfax News Agency.
"The singer could be fined for 5,000 roubles ($171), and the organizers could part with up to 500,000 roubles ($17,000)," he went on to say, adding he was ready to attend the show and "endure it for a couple of hours" to make sure that the law is observed.
The show's promoter, PMI, said it isn't worried at this point. "The preparation for the show is going in accordance to plan," the company's spokesperson told Billboard.biz. "And the show is still too far away."
Meanwhile, some members of the gay community weren't swayed by Madonna's promise to support their rights and say they will organize protest rallies during the singer's St Petersburg show and another scheduled for August 7 in Moscow. "We intend to hold Slavic gay pride parades in both cities to protest against the hypocrisy of Western stars who come to Russia only to put more millions into their pockets, thereby supporting the unbridled homophobic policies imposed by the current authorities," Nikoaly Alekseyev, an organizer of gay pride parades in Moscow, told Novye Izvestiya.