Since introducing the ‘gay propaganda’ law back in 2013, attitudes towards LGBTQ people in Russia have been dangerously hostile.
Just last year, Russian authorities seemingly did little to stop Chechnya’s anti-gay purge, where hundreds of gay and bi men were detained and tortured in modern day concentration camps in the republic.
Russian president Vladimir Putin then went on television to say that it was his duty to prevent same-sex marriage from ever entering into law in his country.
However, Elton John has now revealed that he has met with Russian ministers to discuss LGBTQ rights in the country in a bid to help the persecuted communities who live there.
“We met with the Russian health minister in Moscow in December, and it is all about taking just a little step at a time,” Elton told the New York Daily News.
“I am just a pop star, but I have a foundation and he is a president — and one of the most powerful presidents in the world.
“[Putin] phoned me up and I know they want dialogue, but it is one foot at a time.”
It comes after Elton was tricked by Russian comedians pretending to be Putin on a telephone call back in 2015.
The Russian leader quickly phoned up the British singer shortly after to apologise for their actions, opening up a dialogue that can hopefully one day help LGBTQ people in the country.
Back in January, Russian gay couple Eugene Wojciehowski and Pavel Stotsko were forced to flee their apartment after exploiting a loophole which meant their same-sex marriage was briefly recognised in their home country.
The pair got married in Copenhagen, Denmark on 4 January, before returning to their home together in Moscow weeks later.
Upon their return home, they weren’t expecting their marriage to be seen as legal, but to their — and everyone else’s — shock and delight, a government employee stamped their passports with the official confirmation of marriage in only five minutes.
The couple seem to have exploited a loophole in Russian law which meant the state had to recognise it. The law says that any marriages conducted abroad are legitimate unless it violates “Article 14 of the Family Code.”
To violate Article 14, the marriage has to be either between close relatives or adopted children and their adoptive parents. Other violations are if one person is already married, or if one of them is severely mentally ill and unable to make the decision for themselves.
However, after Pavel posted the news on social media, it was picked up by the mainstream news and Russian authorities were quick to state that the marriage stamps had no legal validity.
Russian MP Vitaly Milonov – author of the country’s law banning so-called gay propaganda – even likened the couple to “stinking goats”.
Russian authorities then surrounded their apartment and cut off the electricity, preventing friends and acquaintances from coming to support them.
The Russian LGBT Network also reported that police had told the couple that they could not guarantee their safety.