Madonna and Other Companies Urged to Boycott St. Petersburg, Russia for Silencing Gay People

Masha Gessen, a journalist in Moscow, calls on Americans to boycott St. Petersburg and cancel scheduled events there over the country's recent passage of its gay "propaganda" law, which bars (and imposes fines for) gay groups from forming publicly, gay books and periodicals, LGBT Pride events, and other violations. She specifically advises Madonna, Mercedes-Benz, and PepsiCo.

Cover_ggwWrites Gessen in the NYT:

I am especially asking you not to go if you are the singer Madonna, who is scheduled to play a concert there on Aug. 9. And if you are Mercedes-Benz or PepsiCo, the two foreign companies that have signed on as partners of this year’s economic forum, scheduled to take place there June 21-23, I am asking you to pull out. And if you are an entrepreneur or an artist or an athlete who has been asked to participate in one of the many conferences and festivals that will take place there this summer, I am asking you to say no. And if you were just planning to visit the city as a tourist during the gorgeous white nights season in May and June, I am asking you to take your vacation someplace else.

BairdCanada has issued a travel warning to its citizens:

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has told the House of Commons he is deeply concerned by the legislation, which he says runs counter to core Canadian values of freedom of speech, human rights and the rule of law. Baird said Canada has lodged an official protest, as well as warning travellers.

"Canada's ambassador has written to the Russian government to express our deep concern and, yes, we have at his request, put a travel advisory on our website," Baird said.

The travel advisory reads:

Homosexuality is legal, though some still strongly disapprove of it. Canadians are advised to avoid displaying affection in public, as homosexuals can be targets of violence. A law prohibiting public actions propagandizing homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transsexuality among minors, and prohibiting public actions propagandizing pedophilia, will come into effect in St. Petersburg on March 17th, 2012. Public actions (including dissemination of information, statements, displays or conspicuous behaviour) contradicting or appearing to contradict this law may lead to arrest, prosecution and the imposition of a fine. Similar laws are already in effect in Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma.

Gay 'Propaganda' Legislation Signed by St. Petersburg Governor [tlrd]


  1. Jeff says

    Good for Canada! Though Minister Baird is not publically out of the closet, it’s the worst kept secret in Ottawa that he is gay.

    I doubt this will have much impact on Madge, but Mercedez and Pepsi should def pull out.

    A partial boycott of the Winter Olympics in Sochi would also be in order. That municipality just refused to let a gay venue open.

  2. jason says

    That Candadian travel advisory looks as if it was written by idiots. Don’t they realize that “lesbianism” falls under the “homosexuality” definition? There is no such thing as “homosexuals and lesbians”.

  3. JD says

    Atlantis (the gay cruise company) has a trip next summer that is supposed to stop in St. Petersburg. Wonder if they will change it, its still on their website.

  4. LuckyLinden says

    I agree that Madonna should perform and both in her performance and statements challenge the law. Why not? If they shut down the concert or try to arrest her she will get more publicity for both herself and her cause than pulling out would cause, and it wouldn’t cost her or her concert promotion company or all the rank and file Russians who are scheduled to work on the concert venue and the night of the concert itself. Bringing global attention and alarm to this issue is paramount and Madonna, by performing and challenging it would do far more good than by pulling out.

    The advisory is standard language and I have no doubt that the State Department will follow suit after the law is in place and how it is implemented is clear. That is fairly straightforward and hardly a reflection of the President’s position. While, yes, some idealogues like John Ashcroft have inserted themselves into established Government processes to remove/add/hurry along things they favored or did not based on their own beliefs. While it is tempting to expect the President to personally involve himself in a single travel advisory, as soon as he does, his office will be expected to do so for every real and perceived abuse in every city or state in the world. It is the State Department’s job (and not Hillary Clinton, either) to review and assess such things, make a recommendation, get it approved and then the Secretary and/or President will make the announcement if it makes sense for them to do so. To criticize them for not taking the time from their day jobs to fast track an advisory regarding one specific region of one country (there are tons of ant-gay, anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, etc. laws everywhere and there are specific criteria that are meant to be unaffected by the politics or personal beliefs of senior elected leaders from either side before deciding on an official state department advisory and what wording–based on US treaties, reciprocal agreements, custom, and other factors–will be used.). The “fierceness” of Obama’s advocacy can be judged based on many factors, but this is not one of them. (And let it never be forgotten that it will always be more fierce than Romney, Santorum, or any president so far in history…even if it stopped today.)

    As for boycotting (or partially boycotting) the Olympics because the city will not allow a non-official group and non-Olympics-affiliatrd group to host a Pride House (which sucks and is wrong, but is not a human rights violation)? No, no, no! Read the books and articles about athletes affected by the boycotts in 1980 and 1984. Athletes train their entire lives and many are at their peak for only a short period of time. When we boycotted the Olympics in 1980 due to Soviet tensions (and vice-versa) we destroyed hundreds of young athletes dreams and chances. Some were at the end of their careers and would never be eligible again, some would never be Olympics quality four years later, some would get injured. And none had the chance to represent out freedoms and our openness and all America represents in objective sport leaving more wins for the Soviets and more internal validation for them.

    Our gay athletes should go and be proud and open, pride House or not, our gay supportive athletes, coaches, fans, and reporters should make their voices heard whenever they can, but we should under no circumstances boycott or pull out of the Olympics simply because of this matter, even partially.

  5. Mark says

    Madonna will perform and get a pass from her gay fans as usual. No one gets between Madonna and her money, even the the particular fan base that are the still loyal to her and supported her career from the beginning. Ironic, isn’t it?

    I used to like Madonna but her music “persona” is no more than a work uniform she must don periodically so she can continue her British blueblood facade. Those two extremes make her “girl gone wild” act seem a tad disingenuous.

    She needs to retire and go stay in her Merchant Ivory film bubble.

  6. Rick says

    “Madonna won’t pull out because she loves money too much”

    No, she will do nothing because gay men are nothing to her or any other “diva” but “customers”…..and she knows they will not hold her accountable for any of her actions, given the blind loyalty that so many of them have to the women they pathetically live vicariously through.

    Who cares what she does anyway? Gay men need to stop hiding behind women’s skirts and fend for themselves in the world, not only because it looks pathetic and unmanly that they are always doing so, but because it will not work as a strategy in the end, anyway–in part because it only reinforces the image of gay men as weak and passive and unwilling to fight for themselves.

    The interests of straight women and gay men do not coincide in any way, shape, or form; they never have and they never will…..and depending on women to advocate for us is beyond stupid.

  7. Rick says

    The problem is that diva-worshipping gay men are the ones who aer Closeted, not men like me who are macho and manly.
    I have hated divas and women ever since I saw my mother give my father the lousiest oral sex in the world, and her inability to work her large mouth on my father’s miniscule member (which he passed on to me) was the source of great pain for my old man.
    I’m just sick of gay men who worship divas giving a pass to Madonna – it’s Madonna’s fault that my father hated me and it’s Lady Gaga’s fault that my mother gave bad oral sex.

  8. Rick says

    As soon as I saw Madonna’s name in the headline I immediately knew I had to comment on this story because I am sick and tired of gay men not recognizing that Madonna is the real enemy.

    In this 1980s, when this shrew was more famous, I was at a party and her music came on and everyone was dancing and i screamed “Only stupid fems listen to Madonna!” and I was kicked out of the party and nobody ever hung out with me ever again, and it’s all Madonna’s fault because if she was a man then things would be better, but she’s a woman. At least she’s not black, but still, women are disgusting and only femmy effeminate fems like her music.
    It’s pathetic that gay men don’t realize that if they finally start to collectively hate Madonna that Equality will come to the community as a whole. That’s the solution. Telling people that you hate Madonna, both online and in your personal life, will bring about LGBT Equality. That’s why Im a real pioneer, because I tell people I hate gay divas every day on this website. You should all learn from me – I’m changing the world.

    Also, one of those posts was not me, but an imposter. No doubt an effeminate diva-lover. You can tell which posts are actually mine, because they contain racist speech, anti-woman speech, and themes about hating effeminate men. And you can also tell that I’m the REAL Rick because I avoid any direct or specific logical arguments and I disappear if asked to prove myself or what I say to be true via transparency.

  9. Rick says

    Obviously, the last two comments are from an impersonator; only the first is from me, the real Rick.

    I am flattered, though, that somebody is so threatened by me that they feel the need to spend as much time and effort as they do impersonating me, though.


  10. Rick says

    Also, I hate diva music because it always has a strong dance beat and it’s well known that I fart when I dance.

    I’m the real Rick and you can tell because I’m not proving it.

  11. Henry Holland says

    “She needs to retire and go stay in her Merchant Ivory film bubble”

    Hey hey hey! Don’t drag the wonderful Merchant Ivory team in to this. :-)

    RIP Ismael Merchant.

    Agree with Luckylinden re: not boycotting the Games.

  12. Molc says

    When has Madonna ever done anything for LGBT causes? I remember a few years back when the mayor of Moscow ordered the shut down of a gay pride march and sent forces in which brutalized the Russian LGBT community. Elton John, who was in Russia castigated the mayor. Madonna was there couple a weeks later and praised him (not for that) not one word about the march. She is a narcisstic, hateful, talentless woman-who cares only about herself, ambition and self promotion.

  13. GOG says

    The mayor of Moscow now lives in London, thanks to the UK’s special billionaire visa law. It’s only function is to bring shady money from Arabs, Chinese, and Russia oligarchs. It is funny how the UK LGBT is up in arms about issues in Russia but has no qualms about the same homophobic rights violator living next door.

    It is the same with Syria. They complain that Bashar Al-Assad can not stand, but his uncle – who led a bigger crackdown in Syria a few years ago – now lives in Mayfair.

  14. Sergio says

    Madonna won’t cancel because she cares more about money than gay rights. Like someone else mentioned, she barely spoke out against Prop 8 and doesn’t do anything for gays except take their money.

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