Elton John's scheduled concert at Crocus City Hall in Moscow went on as planned Friday night, though Russian officials are unlikely to approve of the out musician's comments in support of the nation's embattled LGBT community.
"You took me to your hearts all these years ago and you've always welcomed me with warmth and open arms any time I've visited," said John from the stage, according to a transcript posted by gay blogger Joe Jervis. "You have always embraced me and you have never judged me. So I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia. In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating. People have demanded that because of this legislation, I must not come here to Russia. But many, many more people asked me to come and I listened to them. I love coming here."
John faced intense criticism from both within and outside the LGBT community around the world for his decision to travel to Russia in light of the country's recently enacted nationwide ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" in forums visible to minors.
Defending his decision to perform at Crocus City Music Hall — interestingly the same venue that welcomed out MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts when he cohosted the Miss Universe Pageant last month — John said he needed to go to speak out for those who were silenced under Russia's oppressive laws that impose fines and possible jail time for anyone found to be disseminating "gay propaganda."
It's possible that John could face legal repercussions for violating that law, though several American LGBT pundits speculate that it's unlikely Russian authorities would arrest such a prominent international celebrity. But both Madonna and Lady Gaga faced fines for speaking out in support of Russia's LGBT community when each performed separately last year.
John's remarks in Moscow Friday night were clearly prepared, and were broadcast in English and Russian on the venue's screen above John's head.
Watch video of John's remarks from the stage below, where he also mentions Vadislav Tornovoi, a 23-year-old gay man who was brutally raped and murdered after coming out to his drinking buddies earlier this year, before the nationwide ban unanimously passed the Russian parliament and was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in June.