Cher: ‘I immediately said no to performing at the Winter Olympics due to Russia’s anti-gay laws’

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Cher has refused to perform at Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi due to the country’s anti-gay laws.

The 67-year-old singer revealed that she was approached about becoming an ambassador for the Games and performing at the opening ceremony, but turned down the invitation immediately.

Speaking to Macleans, she said: “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. 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 star admitted that she and former musical partner Sonny Bono were treated poorly at the beginning of their career because they were “different.”

“People hated Sonny and I in the early days because we looked and acted so different,” she said. “Sonny was always getting into fights – people would call him ‘fag’ and he’d get his nose broken – only because we were dressing different.

“And these were our street clothes! You can’t forget that. We tried getting on TV but the backlash against the networks was so bad, they wouldn’t invite us back.”

Cher also spoke about her transgender son, Chaz Bono, who underwent gender confirmation surgery in 2010.

“When Chaz first told me she was going to do it – pronoun problem, when he first told me – and the process started, I was so frightened,” she admitted.

“One time I called Chaz and he had forgot to change his voicemail and it was his old voice. It shook me a bit.

“These are small changes that as a mother you never forget. It is the last taboo. It used to be against the law. Thank God we’ve come so far.”

Cher is one of many celebrities and politicians that have spoken out against Russia’s anti-gay legislation.

Last month, Prison Break star Wentworth Miller came out after turning down an invitation to the St Petersburg International Film Festival.

Miller wrote: “The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.”

Rugby league player Stuart Reardon recently branded the anti-gay laws “disgusting,” but said that he didn’t support a boycott of the Sochi Olympics.

The Russian LGBT network echoed this view, releasing a statement in July saying: “Do not boycott the Olympics – boycott homophobia! Stand in solidarity with people in Russia.”

President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial anti-gay legislation in June, banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.