Madonna Faces Russian Trial Over Gay Propaganda
Russia, and St. Petersburg specifically, have become a bastion of terrifying LGBT laws – namely one barring any action that encourages ‘public action aimed at propagandizing sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors.’ The law went into effect this spring, and while there have been few convictions, there have been a number of arrests with the cases dropped.
Enter Our Lady Madonna and a live show she had in St. Petersburg in August of this year.
Madonna, clad in black leather skirt, proclaims “We want to be Free.” She spoke of her world travels and seeing people becoming “intolerant” and “afraid.” and finally “The Gay community and Gay people here, and gay people around the world, have the same rights – to be treated with respect, dignity, compassion, love. Are you with me?!” She actually sounds pretty good – check it out below.
Well, this didn’t sit well with some locals in the Russian capital city. A collection of “aggravated parties” from different social conservative advocacy groups filed suit against the Material Girl for her words and actions – fines would total over $10 million. Though the complaints were filed shortly after the show, the case wasn’t heard until last Thursday.
Madonna did not make it out to the hearing, though according to the Russian Legal Information Society (RAPSI), local media showed up like she was supposed to. Representatives from the venue that held the show appeared in defense, but were not on trial. The courthouse was packed with reporters and video crews, but only a tiny room housed the actual proceedings.
Luckily, the folks at RAPSI tweeted a play-by-play of the court hearings.Here are some of the highlights:
12:47 So far the court is surrounded by plenty of journalists, but surprisingly few anti-gay activists. Tension is growing in the corridor as journalists prepare to battle for very, very few available seats.
13:02 And RAPSI’s in! We’re getting ready to begin. Meanwhile, one of the claimants is giving an interview telling the reporter about the difference of apprehension of sexual behaviour in Russia and abroad. She is saying about the true family values and the necessity to protect children’s rights. From the claimant’s words, Madonna defied those values.
13:16 Eight aggrieved parties are present. Two of the aggrieved parties just submitted to the judge a translated manuscript of Madonna’s concert speech in support of homosexuals.
13:29 One aggrieved party is currently describing how Madonna’s violation of the anti-gay propaganda law was later posted on her Facebook page and her personal website. He claims that Madonna knew about the law when she violated it, and that children were present in the concert venue when she did it. He is now reading from the anti-gay propaganda law.
13:36 The aggrieved party is talking about the rights of every child to be protected from gay propaganda and defining homosexuality as amoral and inclusive of sodomy. He is reading from the Bible, speaking with poise and passion, but his hands are trembling and he’s wiping sweat from his forehead.
13:53 Meanwhile, the aggrieved party is lamenting that Madonna’s violations threaten to unhinge Russian social order. From his words, a public, thoroughly planned performance affected the childbearing rates as Russia’s youth after Madonna’s words will be more interested in filth than family building. The country’s going to loose its defense capacity as a result.
14:06 The defendant’s side reminds us that nobody of the spectators applied to the police for any law infringements right after the show. Besides, Planeta Plyus representative is saying that they’ve issued a warning that schoolchildren shouldn’t attend the show.
14:42 He reminds us that Madonna labelled the gay propaganda law as barbaric in her Facebook note in March while the show took place in August. She promised to mark the problem during her show in St. Petersburg. The representative draws attention to the fact that Russian LGBT activists equaled the show to the gay pride parade.
15:24 It might be the lack of oxygen, but the tempers are short and tensions are high. Everyone in the courtroom looks extraordinarily grumpy. The judge seems particularly frustrated.
15:48 The judge asks Dedova (one of the complainants) if she ever attended the gay pride parades. She got confused and then replied that she is not against the homosexuality as itself.
16:41 Wikipedia entry on LGBT community and its symbols is among the evidence. The claimants’ representative notes that quite a lot of people attended the show with rainbow flags showing their support to LGBT community.
16:51 A screenshot of Madonna’s personal website with the St. Petersburg show is another piece of evidence. The judge is considering its significance. The aggrieved parties have pulled up Madonna.com on the big screen.
17:41 Now they got back to the translation debate. They seem to be grappling with the Russian translation of Madonna’s show announcement mentioning pink bracelets.
18:09 The judge is losing his temper, asking the aggrieved parties if they can show him even one child present in the footage of the concert speech. After a profound amount of searching, they succeed in finding one, singular child. The aggrieved parties are extremely pleased with themselves.
19:45 The judge is back. The claims rejected in full.
This looks to be the end of the Madonna V. Angry Old Russian Conservatives. It’s always good to hear an international celebrity buck human-rights violations – well, usually. Now where can I get a pink bracelet to support LGBT rights in St. Petersburg?
Read the full play-by-play here.
A look at the Rodney King riots 25 years later in ‘Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992′ at TheatreLAB this weekend
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