Selena Gomez has cancelled two upcoming concerts in Russia today after government officials denied her visa request, a possible side effect of a crackdown on international performers and Russia’s anti-gay laws.
The “Come and Get It” singer was supposed to play St. Petersburg and Moscow next week, but LGBT advocates put together a Change.org petition asking her to take a stand against the country’s laws banning “gay propaganda.” While Gomez hasn’t made a statement about the law, the Evil Empire could still be smarting from Madonna and Lady Gaga’s on-stage condemnations of homophobia in Russia. Officials declared the two pop queens had violated the terms of their visas and even contemplated fining and/or arresting them.
This shows that the Russian government is on edge, it’s nervous, and it’s aware of the bruising its reputation has taken in the wake of their anti-gay crackdown. For the first time since the end of the Yeltsin administration, more Americans have a negative perception of Russia, and it’s clear that the country’s crackdown on LGBT rights has made a difference here.
This cancellation of Selena Gomez’s visa shows that the Russian government is sensitive and on the defense, and shows that the pressure from people all around the world and the backlash against these laws is strong. They’re afraid to have someone like Selena Gomez come in and potentially use her platform to advance LGBT rights.
If Gomez’s denial was linked to Russia’s anti-gay law, she can count herself in good company: Not only did Madge and Mother Monster take a stand, but Cher recently turned down a request to perform at the Winter Games in Sochi. But if Gomez really wants to stand out above the pack of pop princesses, she’ll make that statement condemning Russia. What does she have to lose? They’ve already cancelled her visa.
And at least she won’t have to share the same stage as Elton John.