MOSCOW, February 17 (RIA Novosti) – R&B star Rihanna has announced she will join the ranks of a group of international pop celebrities campaigning in support of gay rights in Russia.
The singer used Twitter over the weekend to post a photograph of herself wearing a hat bearing the P6 logo – a reference to the Principle Six of the Olympic Charter, which condemns all forms of discrimination.
Russia has faced an onslaught of international criticism after the passage last year of legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality among minors, a law that rights activists say is fostering intolerance toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. The issue has received additional impetus with the holding of the Winter Olympics currently taking place in the southern Russian city of Sochi.
Rihanna linked on her Twitter account, which has more than 34 million followers, to an opinion piece in the New York Times newspaper that described the anti-gay law as “outrageously repressive.”
Authorities insist the law does not restrict the sexual choices of adults. President Vladimir Putin said ahead of the Olympic Games that gay people should feel at ease in Sochi, while urging them to “leave children in peace.”
Protests over the gay rights issue have led to several arrests during the Games. Russian gay rights activists were detained during a protest in central Moscow on the day of the Olympic opening ceremony and an Italian gay rights campaigner was reportedly detained in Sochi on Sunday for unfurling a rainbow flag.
The P6 campaign that received Rihanna's backing markets merchandise produced by US firm American Apparel, including hats, bags, underwear, T-shirts and hoodies. Proceeds from sales of the clothing will go toward supporting gay advocacy groups in Russia, according to the group running the P6 campaign.
Rihanna is only the latest in a string of US musicians to speak out on gay rights in Russia. Madonna and Lady Gaga have both condemned the anti-gay law during performances in Russia.