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12:24 GMT +3 hours19 December 2014
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Russia

Madonna 'Gay Propaganda' Lawsuits Go to Court

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A St. Petersburg city court will hold a preliminary hearing on Thursday into multi-million-dollar lawsuits against US pop diva Madonna and the organizers of her recent St. Petersburg concert over an alleged violation of the city's law against "gay propaganda."

A St. Petersburg city court will hold a preliminary hearing on Thursday into multi-million-dollar lawsuits against US pop diva Madonna and the organizers of her recent St. Petersburg concert over an alleged violation of the city's law against "gay propaganda," the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Alexander Pochuyevl said he hopes a Madonna representative will appear at the hearing.

The lawsuits total $10.5 million and were filed against Madonna, the concert’s organizers (PMI company) and the concert hall in August.

Nine people filed lawsuits demanding compensation for “moral damages” stemming from “the open promotion of homosexuality” during Madonna's August 9 concert in Russia’s second largest city, he added.

A group of activists from the St. Petersburg-based civil group Parental Control earlier asked police to investigate the concert, claiming that children as young as 12 were in attendance in violation of the city's law prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality among minors.

During her show at St. Peterburg’s largest concert hall, which was attended by 25,000 people, Madonna complained about “growing intolerance” in the world and called for solidarity with gays and lesbians. She handed out pink wristbands to the audience and asked her fans to raise their hands in a show of support for homosexuals.

Madonna also spoke out in support of all-female group Pussy Riot. Three members of the band were sentenced to two years in jail over a February protest in Moscow’s largest cathedral against Orthodox Church support for Vladimir Putin ahead of the March 4 presidential polls that returned him to the Kremlin for a third term.

St. Petersburg’s controversial law came into effect in March and has been strongly criticized by rights groups.