Elton John speaks to Vladimir Putin about gay rights in phone conversation


Sir Elton John has revealed he has spoken to Vladimir Putin, after requesting a meeting to discuss Russia's anti-gay environment.

The Rocket Man singer, 68, posted a photograph of the Russian president on Instagram, writing: "Thank-you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today.

"I look to forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia," he added.

The star's publicist Gary Farrow confirmed the pair had been in contact.

Their conversation follows Sir Elton's offer of talks with the Russian leader after speaking at a conference in neighbouring Ukraine, where he met with the country's president Petro Poroshenko to lobby him about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

The singer, whose real name is Reginald Dwight, had criticised the Russian president's "ridiculous" stance on gay rights and accused Mr Putin of saying "stupid things" in reference to his warning to gay people travelling to the Winter Olympics to "leave the children in peace".

Russia also passed a law banning homosexual "propaganda" among children in June 2013, sparking an international outcry.

Sir Elton told the BBC: "Give me a break. You are president of Russia, and you go and say stupid things like that?"

He said: "I would like to meet (Mr Putin). It's probably pie in the sky ... He may laugh behind my back when he shuts the door, and call me an absolute idiot, but at least I can think I have the conscience to say I tried."

The star thanked Mr Poroshenko for his "support" after meeting with him.

He captioned an Instagram photo of the pair: "After speaking at the YES Ukraine 2015 Conference today in Kiev, I met with Ukraine President Poroshenko about the importance of legislative changes to support LGBT rights.

"Specifically, I asked him to: 1. Ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexuality and gender identity. 2. Provide criminal penalties for hate crimes.

"We need Ukrainian businessmen and power brokers to create a more inclusive and tolerant society. We need this everywhere!"

Sir Elton has been outspoken on the issue of gay rights before, most recently when, earlier this year, he temporarily boycotted Dolce and Gabbana after the fashion designers called children conceived by IVF "synthetic".

He has two sons, Zachary, four, and Elijah, two, with husband David Furnish.