Madonna has revealed that she was fined $1 million for speaking out about LGBTQ+ rights in Russia.
During her record-breaking MDNA tour in 2012, the pop icon released pink wristbands to audience members in St. Petersburg to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, and delivered a passionate speech about equality.
“I feel that people are becoming more and more afraid of people who are different,” Madonna said in the middle of the show. “People are becoming more and more intolerant, but we can make a difference. We don’t have to do it with violence, but love.
“I am here to say that the gay community and gay people here, and all around the world, have the same rights and to be treated with dignity, respect, tolerance, compassion, and love.”
Madonna asked the audience to raise their wristbands in show support for LGBTQ+ people and concluded: “For people quoting the Bible and using God as a defence mechanism: Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha and Moses preached this – it’s in every Holy book – ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’
“You can not use religion, or God’s name, to treat other people badly. So let’s go out into the world, and spread this message of love, and live our lives without fear. Amen.”
Madonna’s speech was met with widespread praise the LGBTQ+ community and mainstream media, although it was – unsurprisingly – met with fierce backlash from anti-gay Russian campaigners, who accused the Vogue songstress of promoting “homosexual propaganda”. ‘
One ‘campaigner’ said Madonna caused “moral suffering” for Russia because her concerts would ‘turn’ fans gay, meaning “fewer children are born as a result” and the country would be unable to “defend its borders”.
Eight years later, the star revisited the controversial moment as she posted a video of her speech alongside the caption, “8 years ago, I was fined 1 million dollars by the government for supporting the gay community,” adding: “I never paid.”
Madonna also added the following hashtags, ‘#freedomofspeech,’ ‘#powertothepeople’ and ‘#mdna’.
Last year at the GLAAD Awards, Madonna explained why she’s continuously fought for LGBTQ+ rights throughout her career.
“The first gay man I ever met was named Christopher Flynn. He was my ballet teacher in high school and he was the first person that believed in me, that made me feel special as a dancer, as an artist and as a human being,” she said.
“I know this sounds trivial and superficial, but he was the first man to tell me I was beautiful.”
Madonna added: “For the first time I saw men kissing men, girls dressed like boys, boys wearing hot pants, insane, incredible dancing and a kind of freedom and joy and happiness that I had never seen before.
“I finally felt like I was not alone, that it was OK to be different and to not be like everybody else. And that after all, I was not a freak. I felt at home, and it gave me hope.”