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Elton John calls for an end to harassment of gays in Ukraine

Elton John calls for an end to harassment of gays in Ukraine

British pop star Elton John has used an AIDS charity concert in Kyiv on Saturday to call on Ukraine to stop the persecution of LGBT people.

The two hour concert was part of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament co-hosted by Ukraine.

John spoke to fans about gay bashings he had been reading about in the country.

‘Recently I read about violence against gay people in Ukraine. Beating up gay people is wrong. This for me does not symbolize Ukraine,’ John said.

‘I plead with you: Stop the violence against gay people.’

Before performing in concert in Kiev on Saturday night (June 30) Elton John met a leading Ukrainian LGBT rights activist who was brutally attacked after the city’s gay pride parade was stopped at short notice.

Svyatoslav Sheremet was beaten about the head and body by thugs wearing surgical masks shortly after the police refused to the pride march in Kyiv on 20 May which he was organizing.

John particularly called on the country not to introduce law 8711 which would ban ‘propaganda’ about homosexuality.

He said: ‘It should never be a crime to be a different color, or a different religion or a different sexual orientation. We are all god’s children. We all deserve a chance. And I plead with you Ukraine, stop the violence against gay people and say no to law 8711.’

The Ukrainian parliament is due to debate law 8711 this week. It would make all public discussion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights illegal.

The United Nations has condemned the new law saying it would amount to state-promoted discrimination against LGBT people and would violate a large number of rights protected under treaties signed by Ukraine.

Elton John was joined backstage by Lance Price, executive director of the international LGBT human rights organization, the Kaleidoscope Trust.

Price said: ‘It is sad that Ukraine, which was the first former Soviet republic to decriminalize homosexuality should now be threatening to imprison gay people again.’

The organizers of the Kiev pride parade warmly welcomed John’s decision to speak out.

Taras Karasiichuk, chairman of the organizing committee, said: ‘If the proposed law 8711 is passed it would be illegal for Elton John to stand on a stage and speak up for gay rights. This legislation would deprive LGBT people of the human rights that everybody should be entitled to. It would leave us open to more violence and attacks.’

Karasiichuk was himself a victim of a homophobic attack close to his home last week, which left him with a broken jaw.