18.09.2012 / 12:21

Russian Court to Hear $10mln Lawsuit Against Madonna in October

The singer is charged with homosexuality propaganda at her show in St. Petersburg.

The Material Girl herself seems unlikely to materialize, but that hasn't stopped a court in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg from agreeing to hear a 333mln Russian rubles ($10 million) lawsuit against Madonna.

Nine antigay activists, including members of the Trade Union of Russian Citizens, filed the lawsuit, saying the pop diva broke local laws by expressing support for homosexuality during a performance in St. Petersburg on August 9 which children as young as 12 attended.

The lawsuit also seeks damages from the organizers of Madonna's show and the owners of the concert venue.

Hearings into the lawsuit are due to start on October 11.

During her St. Petersburg show, Madonna took off her clothes to reveal black lacy underwear and the words No Fear! written on her back. She also called on people to respect homosexual rights, passing out pink bracelets to concertgoers that she said represented tolerance for Russia's gay community.

Madonna St. Petersburg show were she exposed No Fear inscription

Madonna's speech at St. Petersburg show

St. Petersburg passed a citywide law earlier this year making it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors, even though homosexuality itself is legal in Russia. On her Facebook page, Madonna called the law a ridiculous atrocity.

A few weeks later, on August 28, Madonna kicked off the U.S. leg of her world tour, telling a crowd in Philadelphia that they should never forget how lucky you are to live where you live and to have the freedom that you have.

While also sporting the words No Fear on her back, Madonna told the 20,000 fans in attendance that 80 men were serving time in jails in St. Petersburg only because they were gay.

As the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reminds us, homosexuality was only decriminalized in Russia in 1993, and antigay sentiments, including among officials, remain strong. In 2007, former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov described attempts to hold a Gay Parade in the capital as satanic. There has never been a sanctioned Gay Parade in Russia.

According to a 2010 survey by Russia's independent Levada Center polling agency, 74 percent of respondents said gays and lesbians were amoral and mentally defective, while only 45 percent said they should enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals.

Homosexuality was still classified as a mental disorder in Russia as late as 1999.

At her Moscow show, Madonna supported the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot.

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