Madonna Says Russia Fined Her $1 Million For Supporting LGBTQ Rights

Madonna has been a devoted ally to the LGBTQ community since the early days of her career and that outspokenness apparently didn’t fly in Russia eight years ago. 

On Sunday, the pop superstar posted a clip of a mid-concert speech she delivered during the St. Petersburg stop on her 2012 MDNA Tour. In it, she doubles down on her support for LGBTQ rights, telling the crowd, “We want to fight for the right to be free, to be who we are.” 

“I am here to say that the gay community and gay people, here and all around the world, have the same rights [as everyone else] to be treated with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love,” she tells the crowd, many of whom signal their agreement by hoisting rainbow flags into the air. 

In a caption accompanying the video, Madonna said that she was slapped with a $1 million fine by the Russian government for the speech, but that she “never paid.” 

Days after the performance, the Queen of Pop was reportedly sued by a group calling itself the Trade Union of Russian Citizens for blasphemy in connection with the speech. The group sought $10 million in damages, but the suit was later dropped. 

While the Kremlin has yet to respond to Madonna’s latest claim, her 2012 concert made global headlines as it coincided with a firestorm of controversy over Russia’s opposition to LGBTQ rights. In 2013, the Russian government came under fire from human rights groups when it enacted a law forbidding the distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors.

In more recent years, officials have tried to dismiss troubling allegations that gay men are being detained, tortured and even killed in the Russian republic of Chechnya. And last week, lawmakers submitted draft legislation that would effectively ban same-sex marriage in Russia after voters backed changes to the constitution that would define marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

Other stars, including Lady Gaga and Elton John, have also spoken out in defense of LGBTQ rights during performances in Russia. 

Not surprisingly, Madonna’s subsequent concert treks ― 2015’s Rebel Heart Tour and 2019’s Madame X Tour ― have bypassed Russia altogether.