This week, Justin Timberlake announced on his website that his 20/20 Experience World Tour is headed to Russia–St. Petersburg and Moscow, to be exact–in 2014, with tickets going on sale this Saturday. Since the performances in Russia will mark Timberlake's first time performing in the country, people are starting to ask, essentially, WWJD–what will Justin do? US News reports:
"Obviously our hope is that Justin will use his time in Russia as an opportunity to highlight and expose the horrible situation that the LGBT [community is] facing there," says Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Charles Joughin. Recent legislation passed by the Kremlin includes the prohibition of "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and a ban of the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples abroad and unmarried individuals in countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
Cher recently revealed she had been asked to perform at 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in February, but turned down the offer because of the crackdown. Elton John, meanwhile, has vowed to go on with his concerts in Russia next month, despite boycott threats, being labeled "the devil's work" by a Russian Islamic leader, and calls that John wear a traditional Cossack uniform rather than his usual costume, which one group suggested was "homosexual propaganda."
The problem, as HRC's Joughin points out, is that Russia's anti-gay laws are so vague–and so all-encompassing–that nobody really knows exactly what's illegal. "It could be that tweeting, 'I support LGBT equality,' while you're in Russia could violate the law," Joughin told US News.
Of course, Timberlake's not the kind of gay icon that Cher or Elton John are, but he has voiced his support for LGBT rights in the past. More importantly, though, he represents–and can speak to–a younger generation. And in today's Russia, that generation could use all the pro-LGBT sentiment it can get.