Elton John Slams Vladimir Putin's LGBT Comments After Russian Distributors Censor Biopic: 'This Feels Like Hypocrisy to Me'

Elton John slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin for being hypocritical on LGBT issues after Kremlin distributors censored Rocketman, a recent biopic about the singer-songwriter's life and career throughout the years.

In an interview with the Financial Times, published Thursday, Putin declared that Russia had "no problem with LGBT persons." A day later, John took to social media to call out Putin's comments as hypocritical. In a statement shared to Twitter, the 72-year-old musician condemned the Russian leader for allowing distributors in his country to censor LGBT-scenes in Rocketman.

"Dear President Putin, I was deeply upset when I read your recent interview in The Financial Times," John wrote. "I strongly disagree with your view that pursuing policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity are obsolete in our societies."

"I find duplicity in your comment that you want LGBT people to 'be happy' and that 'we have no problem in that'. Yet Russian distributors chose to heavily censor my film 'Rocketman' by removing all references to my finding true happiness through my 25-year relationship with [my husband] David [Furnish] and the raising of my two beautiful sons," the English singer continued. "This feels like hypocrisy to me."

"I am proud to live in a part of the world where our governments have evolved to recognize the universal human right to love whoever we want," he added, before noting that he was "grateful" that social progress has enabled the policies that allowed him to legally marry his partner.

"This has brought us both tremendous comfort and happiness," John concluded.

John's open letter to Putin comes roughly a month after Amnesty International condemned the Russian version of Rocketman, which excludes scenes depicting drug use and sexual encounters between men. The film was released in Russia on June 6.

"This homophobic censorship of a film about Elton John is as ridiculous as it is insulting for LGBTI people and anyone in the country who stands for dignity and non-discrimination," Natalia Zviagina, Director of Amnesty International's Representative Office in Russia said in a statement. "It is a sad irony that Sir Elton John himself promised back in 2015 that he would try to positively influence [Russian President] Vladimir Putin's gay rights attitude."

Zviagina also accused the censorship of insulting and dehumanizing same-sex relationships and called for the omitted scenes to be reinstated.

The removed scenes violated a Russian law, aimed at "protecting children from information promoting the denial of traditional family values," often referred to as the "gay propaganda law." Passed in 2013, the legislation bans the "promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors," according to the Human Rights Watch.

Critics of the Russian censorship of Rocketman noted that the move was largely redundant as the film was rated 18+ and thus excluded minors from being able to view it in theatres.

Elton John
British singer-songwriter Elton John addresses a crowd in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace in Paris, on June 21, 2019, as part of a ceremony in which he was awarded the French Legion of Honour from the French president and concerts to mark France's annual "Fete de la Musique" (Music Festival). Lewis Joly/Getty