Madonna may be arrested in St Petersburg

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The author of the St Petersburg anti-gay bill has said that he would want Madonna charged under that law, should she speak out against it during her forthcoming concert in the city.

His strongly-worded comment comes in the light of the pop singer’s comments on her Facebook page, posted this Wednesday, where she pledged “to support the gay community” and speak out against “this ridiculous atrocity.”

Vitaly Milanov, who sponsored the legislation, and is an ally of Mr Putin, told the Russian Interfax news agency that he was “ready to personally suffer a couple of hours of her concert” in order to “control its moral content.”

Madonna’s comments were triggered in their turn by an opinion piece written by the Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen, urging the singer, along with Mercedes-Benz and PepsiCo, to boycott the city that would penalise, as the bill terms it, “the propaganda of male homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors.”

Reactions to Madonna’s statements have been mixed among gay rights activists in Russia. Nikolai Aleksev, the head of the advocacy group Gay Russia, wrote in his blog: “The law will stay in force, Madonna will leave and the Russian LGBT-community will be humiliated even more.” He also vowed to picket the concert, accusing the self-reported “freedom fighter” of exploiting their struggle for money, and urging her instead to cancel her shows.

Another group, the Russian LGBT Network, has however spoken out against these tactics. According to ABC News, Igor Kochetkov, chairman of the network, has said that the singer’s words in support of gay rights to millions of her fans in Russia would do more good than any boycott.