Selena Gomez concerts canceled amid Russian fears over gay rights

Selena Gomez canceled her two concerts after Russia refused her a visa. Russian officials may have been worried that Selena Gomez was going to do what Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Bloodhound Gang did.

U.S. pop singer Selena Gomez has scrapped two concerts in Russia after falling foul of new visa rules which critics say can be used to keep out Western artists who promote gay rights.

The concert organizers said the "Come and Get It" singer pulled out of the planned performances in St. Petersburg and Moscow next week when it became clear she would not be able to secure a visa in time.

They blamed the delay on the new rules, which they said were prompted by official concern over two concerts in Russia at which Madonna and Lady Gaga defended gay rights, and a gig in neighboring Ukraine where the lead singer of U.S. group Bloodhound Gang stuffed a Russian flag down his trousers.

"The situation is a result of the scandals over the Madonna, Lady Gaga and Bloodhound Gang concerts, after which the Russian authorities changed procedures for issuing visas to foreign musical and artistic groups," said the promoters, the Russian Entertainment Academy.

A representative for Gomez, 21, confirmed the Russia concerts were cancelled but declined further comment.

Gomez, who has not taken a public stance on gay rights, has also come under pressure to denounce Russia's law prohibiting gay propaganda to minors. A U.S. petition started on the Change.org website calls for Gomez to speak out in support of Russian homosexual rights and has gained more than 14,000 signatures.

Foreign artists can no longer receive visas by invitation from the Culture Ministry under the aegis of cultural links if they come to Russia to conduct commercial activity, according to state-run news agency RIA.

It said the procedures were changed following complaints from Vitaly Milonov, a St. Petersburg legislator who criticized Madonna and Lady Gaga and has campaigned against gay rights.

Performing in St. Petersburg last year in black lingerie with the words "No Fear" scrawled on her back, Madonna attacked a city law promoted by Milonov that imposed fines for spreading homosexual "propaganda".

Lady Gaga also denounced the law on stage in St Petersburg last year, declaring: "Tonight, this is my house Russia. You can be gay in my house."

A Russian state news agency quoted the head of PMI, which organized Madonna's concert in St. Petersburg, as saying the new rules could be used by the Russian authorities to keep out performers not to their liking.

"Not a single person is going to visit us if the Prosecutor General's Office starts disputing something or looking for guilty parties," Yevgeny Finkelshtein was quoted as saying last month.

Russia has courted controversy since the ban on anti-gay propaganda among minors went into force nationwide this year, as part of a drive by President Vladimir Putin to win over conservative voters after protests against his long rule.

Human rights campaigners say the law is discriminatory and it has prompted calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics being hosted by the Russian resort city of Sochi next February.

U.S. singer Cher turned down an opportunity to perform at the Winter Games in Sochi because of the anti-gay propaganda, saying the decision was a "no brainer".

Madonna even faced a court battle against anti-gay activists who tried - but failed - to press a $10-million compensation claim against her because they said she had hurt their feelings by promoting homosexuality at her St. Petersburg concert.

Putin defended the law on Thursday, saying: "Any minority's right to be different must be respected, but the right of the majority must not be questioned." (Reporting by Liza Dobkina and Steve Gutterman; Additional reporting by Eric Kelsey in Los Angeles; Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Toby Chopra and Eric Walsh)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.