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Selena Gomez Denied Visa To Russia Due To Country’s Anti-Gay Law

Pop singer cancels two scheduled concerts this week.
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(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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Selena Gomez has cancelled two highly publicized shows in Russia because she was denied an entry visa in accordance with the country’s anti-gay laws, reports The Moscow Times. The shows scheduled for St. Petersburg on Sept. 23 and Moscow on Sept. 25 have been scrubbed from her official tour dates.

The decision to deny the pop star a stage in Russia reportedly comes in the wake of performances by Madonna and Lady Gaga, which struck controversy in the country when the two voiced their support for gay culture and equality. Russia has been under international scrutiny for their anti-LGBT laws since they came into effect in June. In accordance to the new law, the government claimed that Lady Gaga and Madonna were in violation of their visas by speaking out in favor of gay rights at their shows.

The notorious “Anti-Gay” law, adopted by Russia with the support of Vladimir Putin, bans same-sex couples from adopting Russian-born children, allows police to arrest foreigners they suspect as being “pro gay,” and outlaw “homosexual propaganda” as pornography. The law also bars “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships” to minors, which is where Gomez’s concert came into concern.

Gomez’s trip to Russia had inspired gay rights activist John Becker to launch a Change.org petition urging the singer to “stand up for Russia’s LGBT community” at her two performances. Well over 10,000 people have signed the petition, which has since been updated to reflect the cancellation:

This cancellation of Selena Gomez’s visa shows that the Russian government is sensitive and on the defense, and shows that the pressure from people all around the world and the backlash against these laws is strong. They’re afraid to have someone like Selena Gomez come in and potentially use her platform to advance LGBT rights.

After news came about Lady Gaga’s shows in August, she sent out a series of tweets in support of the LGBT community:

The Moscow Times also reports that the head of the Petersburg Music Industry company, Yevgeny Finkelshtein, spoke out earlier this month against the law, fearing that the finger-pointing would discourage other performers from visiting the country.

“Not a single person is going to visit us if the Prosecutor General’s Office starts disputing something or looking for guilty parties.”

In related news, Elton John, an open GLBT-supporter and activist, told The Guardian that he was planning to play Moscow this December, though in light of Gomez’s recent cancellation, it is unclear whether the singer has been granted a visa. He said of his planned performance:

I’ve got to go. And I’ve got to think about what I’m going to say very carefully. There’s two avenues of thought: do you stop everyone going, ban all the artists coming in from Russia? But then you’re really leaving the men and women who are gay and suffering under the anti-gay laws in an isolated situation. As a gay man, I can’t leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve got to go.”

Gomez has also cancelled a performance in Kiev, Ukraine on Sept. 21.  Her next show is scheduled for Dubai at the Dubai World Trade Centre on September 27.

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