Madonna reveals she was fined $1 million for giving a rousing queer rights speech on stage in Russia – but she never paid

Madonna performs on stage during her MDNA tour at Saint Petersburg's Sports and Concert Complex on August 9, 2012. (OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images)

Madonna revealed she was fined $1million by the Russian government after speaking out on LGBT+ rights, but she never ended up paying.

On Monday morning (20 July), the singer reflected on a rousing speech she delivered in Russia in 2012 during a sold-out concert in Saint Petersburg as part of her MDNA tour.

Madonna crooned kindness in a passionate plea as thousands packing the stadium raised LGBT+ Pride flags up high.

“I’m here to say that the gay community, and gay people, here and all around the world, have the same rights,” she said during a pause in the concert.

Recalling the night eight years on, Madonna tweeted that the Russian government fined her $1million for her words. “I never paid…” she wryly revealed.

She shared a video from the night, showing her calling for queer people to be given “the same rights to be treated with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love”.
She rallied for fans to rattle their pink wristbands, which the “Vogue” singer distributed to fans who wished to support the queer community.

“It’s in every holy book, love thy neighbour as thyself,” she said. “You cannot use religion to treat other people badly.

“Let’s all go out into the world and spread this message of love, and live our lives without fear.”

Madonna faced terrorist threats and arrest for speaking out about LGBT+ rights and Pussy Riot case.

At the time of Madonna’s visit to Russia, St Petersburg officials were considering a “gay propaganda” bill, eventually passed in 2013, prohibiting advocating homosexuality to children.

Ahead of the shows, Madonna wrote on her personal website that she is a “freedom fighter” and refused to stay quiet on LGBT+ rights.

“I will come to St Petersburg to speak up for the gay community, to support the gay community and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels oppressed,” she wrote.

Various anti-gay groups in Russia, stung by the singer’s brazen acknowledgement that queer folk exist, sought to file a lawsuit against her after the concert.

Madonna would not face jail time, but the groups said she would have to pay significant damages: suing her $10.7 million.

Ultimately, Russian judges dismissed the suit against Madonna, noting that the prohibition law applies to minors, and ticket-holders at Madonna’s concert had to be aged 18 or over to attend.

Before and during the concerts, Madonna also spoke in support of three Pussy Riot members – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich – who were at the time in prison after performing an anti-Putin “punk prayer”.

Following her intervention, Russian government leaders dubbed her an “ex-slut”, while her St Petersburg gig was the subject of a terror threat.