A Russian court has dismissed a lawsuit against pop superstar Madonna, rejecting claims that her actions during a concert in St. Petersburg in August violated a local law against promoting homosexual behavior.
On Thursday, judge Vitaly Barkovsky, ruled against the plaintiffs — members of various conservative groups who argued that Madonna’s comments violated a new law banning the promotion of “homosexual propaganda” to minors and would lead to the destruction of the nation, reported The Guardian:
“I am here to say that 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,” Madonna said during the performance in August, as concert-goers waved gay pride flags and flashed pink wristbands the pop star had handed out as symbols of support.
The claimants argued that Madonna’s performance would adversely affect Russia’s birthrate and therefore its ability to maintain a proper army. They cited posts on the Facebook page condemning the law as proof she had prior knowledge of the potential criminality of expressing herself.
The lawsuit was filed just days after Madonna angered conservative Russians with her support for the punk band Pussy Riot — three of the band’s members were sentenced August 17 to two years in prison for a protest inside a Moscow cathedral.
Anti-gay Russian activists pointed to the presence of children as young as 12 at Madonna’s concert on Aug. 9.
Madonna did not face jail time, but she could have had to pay significant damages — the anti-gay groups suing her sought $10.7 million. She ignored repeated requests to attend the hearing.
St. Petersburg is one of four regions in Russia to criminalize the dissemination of “gay propaganda” — the others are the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions.
Supporters of the ordinance say the law is necessary in order to promote traditional Russian values.