Elton John has called on Ukrainians to be more accepting of LGBT people, and he would like to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to encourage him to improve the situation in his nation as well.
Policies “designed to repress LGBT citizens … hinder economic development,” the music star and activist told a meeting of business and political leaders in Kiev, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
Countries, even developing ones, that recognize LGBT rights have a higher per capita gross domestic product than those that are less tolerant, John said. “So being tolerant and inclusive is not only the morally right thing to do, for the new Ukraine, it’s the smart thing to do,” he said, accorrding to the AP.
John also met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and urged greater acceptance of LGBT people, and he would like to meet with Putin too, he told the BBC.
Putin’s attitude toward LGBT people is “isolating and prejudiced,” John told the BBC. The singer has often criticized Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, enacted in 2013, which essentially prohibits any positive discussion of LGBT people or support for their rights in forums accessible to minors. He has decried widespread homophobic violence in Russia as well (including at a 2013 concert, pictured), and has previously expressed a wish to talk with Putin.
He admitted his chance of having a meeting with Putin is slim. “It’s probably pie in the sky,” John told the BBC, adding that if such a meeting were to take place, “he may laugh behind my back when he shuts the door, and call me an absolute idiot, but at least I can think I have the conscience to say I tried.”