Elton John condemns censoring of Rocketman gay scenes in Russia

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By Emma Beswick  with Reuters
Elton John condemns censoring of Rocketman gay scenes in Russia
Copyright  REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

Singer Elton John, 72, on Friday criticized the reported censorship in Russia of gay sex scenes in "Rocketman" — the new film based on his life.

He called the decision "cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people."

Russian gay rights activists have spoken out against the local distributor of the picture allegedly cutting scenes depicting homosexual activity and drug use.

John and the makers of "Rocketman" released a statement in response to the reports.

"We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor 'Rocketman' for the Russian market," it read.

"That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended, is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people," they added.

A Russian film critic was quoted in the English-language Moscow Times on Friday as saying that several scenes, totalling about 5 minutes, had disappeared from the Russian version of the film.

They included a male sex scene and a photograph during the closing credits showing the singer and his real-life husband David Furnish — who was a producer on the film — according to Yegor Moskvitin.

John is known for campaigning in favour of gay rights and previously criticised a 2013 law banning the dissemination of "gay propaganda" among young Russians.

The country's president Vladimir Putin said he'd be willing to meet the music legend in 2015, but despite playing a May 2016 concert in Moscow, no audience between the pair took place.