Sophie Ellis-Bextor: I won’t boycott Russia over anti-gay laws, I have lots of gay fans there

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor has said she won’t stop performing in Russia over its anti-gay laws – because she doesn’t want to abandon her gay fans there.

The singer, who headlined Bristol Pride last year, made the comments in an interview with the Independent.

She said: “I go [to Russia] a couple of times every year at least, sometimes way more than that.

“I’ve got a massive gay following and I have done from the beginning and it’s something I’m incredibly proud of.

“I perform in Russia because I love the fact that music can bring everyone together, and everyone is welcome at my gigs and I like to think that it’s a place where they can get their hands in the air to the disco music and that we could connect. That’s what, for me, performing is.

“There’s no positive spin on it at all, it’s just bad through and through. It’s actually quite heartbreaking, really. The idea that those people have grown up that way.

“The first time I started doing shows there they were club shows, and it kind of built, and now I do loads of public shows.

“And I’ve looked those people in the eye, I’ve seen my gay fans in Russia. I’ve met them. So it’s really hard.

“I’m not going to stop going there if it gives them somewhere to go and I can have a moment with them.”

However, she added that there are some bookings that she does turn down for ethical reasions.

She said: “It has to come down to each gig, how it comes across, how it could be read.

“There have been things, I’m not going to go into them, but there are things that I have said no to that just didn’t feel right.

“Everything I think you do, whether it becomes a political issue or an artistic issue or anything, I think it’s always bespoke, and it all comes down to how well you sleep at night with all the decisions you are making.

“You’ve got to do things with the right motivations, really.”