Elton John: 'stop the violence against gay people in Ukraine'
Elton John has called for an end to homophobic violence in Ukraine and said a controversial proposed law that would ban 'propaganda' about homosexuality should be dropped. Speaking during a concert in the centre of the capital last night, Elton John said,"It should never be a crime to be a different colour, or a different religion or a different sexual orientation. We are all God's children. We all deserve a chance. And I plead with you Ukraine, stop the violence against gay people and say no to law 8711."
Before performing in concert in Kiev on Saturday night (June 30) Elton John met a leading Ukrainian LGBT rights activist who was brutally attacked after the city's gay pride parade was stopped at short notice.
Svyatoslav Sheremet was beaten about the head and body by thugs wearing surgical masks shortly after the police told organisers they could not guarantee the safety of the gay pride march in Kiev on May 20th.
This week the Ukrainian parliament is due to debate a proposed law - number 8711 - that would make all public discussion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights illegal. The United Nations has condemned the new law saying it would amount to state-promoted discrimination against LGBT people and would violate a large number of rights protected under treaties signed by Ukraine.
Elton John was joined backstage by Lance Price, Executive Director of the international LGBT human rights organisation, the Kaleidoscope Trust.
Lance Price said: 'Next weekend London will host the 'World Pride' parade in Central London. But while we celebrate our rights we cannot forget that that those very same rights are being denied to gay people all over the world. No fewer than 78 countries criminalise homosexuality. In five of them the maximum penalty is death. It is sad that Ukraine, which was the first former Soviet republic to decriminalise homosexuality should now be threatening to imprison gay people again.'
The organisers of the Kiev pride parade warmly welcomed Elton John's decision to speak out.
Taras Karasiichuk, chairman of the organising committee, said: "If the proposed law 8711 is passed it would be illegal for Elton John to stand on a stage and speak up for gay rights. This legislation would deprive LGBT people of the human rights that everybody should be entitled to. It would leave us open to more violence and attacks."
Taras Karasiichuk was himself a victim of a homophobic attack close to his home last week, which left him with a broken jaw.