Madge escapes $10m fine for Russian gay rights speech
Pop star Madonna has escaped a hefty fine for speaking out for gay rights in Russia as the UN late last week delivered withering criticism of the country's anti-gay 'homosexual propaganda' laws operating in several regions after ruling the legislation goes against basic human rights.
In April, the material girl became incensed over reports that a local council in St Petersburg had passed a law forbidding the promotion of homosexuality to minors.
Madonna spoke out about the law on Facebook and at a Russian concert in August. "I am here to say that the gay community and gay people here and all around the world have the same rights – to be treated with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love,” she said during her concert in St Petersberg.
The Trade Union of Russia brought a lawsuit of over $10 million against Madonna for exposing young people to “homosexual propaganda”.
Russia has been harshly criticised over the law, which has also been adopted in eight other regions.
“Who will children grow up to be if they hear about the equal rights of the lesbian lobby and manly love with traditional sexual relations?" one of the plaintiffs asked the court.
The claimants argued that Madonna's performance would adversely affect Russia's birthrate and therefore its ability to maintain a proper army.
The hearing lasted one day before the case was thrown out.
At one point the judge threatened to throw journalists out of the courtroom because they were laughing too much.
Madonna did not appear in court, and has also spoken in support of Russian feminist punks, Pussy Riot, who were convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years’ prison after staging a performance in a church.
Meanwhile on November 23 in a decision likely to have repercessions in St Petersburg, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) found a similar law operating in the region of Ryazan was in breach of freedom of expression and discrimination as outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In its judgement, the UNHRC has called for the law to be repealed and ordered a follow-up report from Ryazan lawmakers within the next six months.
The case was brought to the attention of the UNHRC after activists Irina Fedotova and Nikolai Baev were arrested and fined in Ryazan city in March 2009 for promoting ‘homosexual propaganda’ by holding placards saying ‘Homosexuality is normal’ and ‘I am proud of my homosexuality’.