- In fact, anti-LGBT+ campaigners also tried to sue her for $10million for the same speech.
Madonna has reshared a speech she made in Russia calling for LGBT+ rights – which earned her a fine of $1million.
But the queen of pop tells her Instagram followers she never paid.
Madonna made the speech in August 2012 during her MDNA tour. It came just after St Petersburg had just passed its law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’ in March.
However Madonna defiantly gave people attending the gig pink wristbands and rainbow placards.
Moreover, she called on Russia to treat the gay community ‘with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love’.
As she made the speech, the crowd proudly waved their Pride flag banners. And when she asked them ‘are you with me’ they raised their arms with the pink wristbands.
‘Show your love and appreciation for the gay community’
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Madonna told the crowd in St Petersburg:
‘We want to fight for the right to be free. To be who we are. Yes? Yes!
‘It’s a very strange time in the world. I’m travelling around the world and I feel it in the air. I feel people are becoming more and more afraid of people who are different. People are becoming more and more intolerant.
‘It is a very scary time. But we can make a difference. We can change this. We have the power. And we don’t have to do anything violent. We just have to do it with love.
‘At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love. Martin Luther King Jr said that. And he fought for the rights of African American people. He fought for their rights to be equal and to be treated equally, with tolerance and love and human dignity.
‘I am here to say the gay community and gay people here and all around the world have the same rights to be treated with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love.
‘Are you with me? If you are with me I want to see your pink arm bands. If you are with me, raise your arm and show your love and appreciation for the gay community. Are you with me?’
Don’t use the Bible to justify bigotry
Moreover, after thanking the crowd for showing support by raising their arms, she added:
‘This is for people who are quoting the Bible and using God as their defense mechanism. Jesus preaches, Muhammed preaches, Buddha preaches, Moses preaches – it’s in every holy book – “love thy neighbor as thyself”.
‘You can not use religion to treat other people badly. You can not use God’s name to treat other people badly. We all deserve love. Let’s all go out into the world and spread this message of love and live without fear.’
Threat of $10million lawsuit
Shortly after Madonna’s speech, a group of 10 anti-gay Russian activists filed a $10 million lawsuit against her in a St Petersburg court. They claim she insulted their feelings by flouting the city anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law.
They subsequently sent a legal summons to her home address in New York. However she failed to attend the court dates in October. And on 22 November a judge ruled she hadn’t broken St Petersburg’s anti-gay law.
Meanwhile, officials in the city immediately started the process of fining her and her production company.
In the end, Madonna says the Russian government fined her $1million. In an Instagram post yesterday she said:
‘I made this speech at a concert in St Petersburg eight years ago. I was fined 1 million dollars by the government for supporting the gay community. I never paid…’
Meanwhile local laws in St Petersburg and elsewhere would eventually inspire Russia’s LGBT+ anti-propaganda legislation. The authorities still use it to persecute the community today.
In 2015, Madonna vowed not to tour Russia again because of its homophobic laws.
Pussy Riot controversy
Indeed Madonna stirred up other controversy while in Russia in 2012 too.
Someone asked her about feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot, who are also LGBT+ campaigners.
The band had made headlines around the world by protesting against Vladimir Putin in a cathedral. The protest highlighted the relationship between Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. However, it ended in prison sentences.
Madonna commented: ‘I’m against censorship, and my whole career I’ve always promoted freedom of expression and freedom of speech so I think what’s happening to them is unfair.
‘And I hope that they don’t have to serve seven years in jail; that would be a tragedy.
‘I think art should be political, that art, historically speaking, always reflects what’s going on socially. So for me it’s hard to separate being an artist and being political.’