MOSCOW — Pop icon Madonna is being sued for more than $10 million by a group of anti-gay Russian activists who claimed they were offended by her support for gay rights during a recent concert in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian news agencies quoted Alexander Pochuyev, a lawyer representing nine activists, as saying the suit was filed Friday against Madonna, the organizer of her concert, and the hall where it was held, seeking damages totaling 333 million rubles, or nearly $10.5 million.
The complaint includes a video taken at the concert showing Madonna stomping on an Orthodox cross and asking fans to raise their hands to show the pink armbands in support of gays and lesbians that were distributed among the audience, reported RIA Novosti.
Anti-gay sentiment runs high in Russia.
In St. Petersburg, a law passed in February and which came into force on March 30, makes it a crime to disseminate “gay propaganda” or “promote” homosexuality to minors.
Anti-gay Russian activists pointed to the presence of children as young as 12 at Madonna’s concert on Aug. 9.
The lawsuit comes just two days after Madonna angered conservative Russians with her support for the punk band Pussy Riot — three of the band’s members were sentenced Friday to two years in prison for a protest inside a Moscow cathedral.
After the verdict was issued, Madonna called on “all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment.”
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.
In March, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party introduced a bill in the country’s parliament, the Duma, which would impose the ban at the national level.