Super-diva and LGBT ally Cher, has turned down an invitation to attend and sing at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The singer cited Russia's anti-LGBT laws and violence against LGBT people as the reason she will not participate.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Cher was quoted as saying:
“I can’t name names, but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there and asked me if I’d like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show,” she said. “I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there. He said the Russian people don’t feel the way the government does.”
The fact is that the Russian public does not have accurate information about LGBT people. The only thing they hear is from anti-LGBT politicians and state-controlled media, which routinely defames LGBT people, portraying them as dangerous predators.
Because of this inaccurate portrayal, the Russian Duma has passed an "anti-propaganda" law, which outlaws speaking favorably about LGBT people, holding a rainbow flag, holding hands, or even the simple act of coming out. 24 year-old Dmitry Isakov has already been arrested for breaking the law, after holding a sign that stated, "Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is a crime!"
Further, a law has been proposed that would remove children from parents accused of being gay.
Gangs have targeted and kidnapped LGBT people, tortured them, and posted videos of the torture. The gang members proudly state that they are torturing LGBT people. Such crimes have not been investigated or prosecuted.
Cher has been a long supporter of LGBT equality. She appeared at the 2012 GLAAD Media Awards to help present the Stephen F. Kolzak Award to her son, Chaz Bono.
Other celebrities have been speaking out in support of LGBT people in Russia. Actor and filmmaker, Wentworth Miller declined participating in the St. Petersburg Film Festival by coming out. The Miss Universe Pageant issued a statement that the anti-LGBT Russian laws are "diametrically opposed" to the values of the organization. Many others have tweeted outrage at the anti-LGBT laws or in support of Russian LGBT people.
As time goes on, we will see more and more celebrities, organizations, and everyday people speaking out in a variety of ways to oppose anti-LGBT laws and in support of LGBT people in Russia and around the world. GLAAD will continue to lift up voices of LGBT Russians and keep pressure on the media to report on the state of LGBT life in Russia.