Accessibility links

Madonna Being Sued In Russian Court For Expressing Herself


Madonna performs in St. Petersburg on August 9.

Madonna performs in St. Petersburg on August 9.

The "Material Girl" herself seems unlikely to materialize, but that hasn't stopped a court in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg from agreeing to hear a $10 million lawsuit against Madonna.

Nine antigay activists, including members of the Trade Union of Russian Citizens, filed the lawsuit, saying the pop diva broke local laws by expressing support for homosexuality during a performance in St. Petersburg on August 9 which children as young as 12 attended.

The lawsuit also seeks damages from the organizers of Madonna's show and the owners of the concert venue.

Hearings into the lawsuit are due to start on October 11.

Madonna stripped down to reveal "No Fear" written on her bare back.

Madonna stripped down to reveal "No Fear" written on her bare back.

During her St. Petersburg show, Madonna took off her clothes to reveal black lacy underwear and the words "No Fear!" written on her back. She also called on people to respect homosexual rights, passing out pink bracelets to concertgoers that she said represented tolerance for Russia's gay community.

St. Petersburg passed a citywide law earlier this year making it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors, even though homosexuality itself is legal in Russia. On her Facebook page, Madonna called the law a "ridiculous atrocity."

A few weeks later, on August 28, Madonna kicked off the U.S. leg of her world tour, telling a crowd in Philadelphia that they should "never forget how lucky you are to live where you live and to have the freedom that you have."

While also sporting the words "No Fear" on her back, Madonna told the 20,000 fans in attendance that 80 men were serving time in jails in St. Petersburg only because they were gay.

As the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reminds us:

Homosexuality was only decriminalized in Russia in 1993, and antigay sentiments, including among officials, remain strong. In 2007, former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov described attempts to hold a Gay Parade in the capital as "satanic." There has never been a sanctioned Gay Parade in Russia.

According to a 2010 survey by Russia's independent Levada Center polling agency, 74 percent of respondents said gays and lesbians were "amoral" and "mentally defective," while only 45 percent said they should enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals.

Homosexuality was still classified as a mental disorder in Russia as late as 1999.

A man demonstrates at Madonna's St. Petersburg concert.

A man demonstrates at Madonna's St. Petersburg concert.

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG