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Madonna acquitted of breaking St Petersburg anti-gay law

 BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – "How many families split up because one of the couple is gay?" Judge Vitaly Barkovsky asked, before throwing out a case against pop superstar Madonna, who was the subject of a lawsuit that claimed she "brutally violated" a St Petersburg law against propaganda of homosexuality," Gay Star News reports.

Madonna did not attend the hearing.

According to Pink News, the pro-Kremlin group Trade Union of Russian Citizens was asking for 33 million rubles (about $10 million) from Madonna and the company that organized her concert, in which she spoke out against the city's anti-gay gag law, handed out pink wristbands and urged the crowd to show support for queers.

"Raise your arm and show your love and appreciation for the gay community," Madonna told the audience at the Aug 9 St Petersburg concert, in the face of threats of violence. "Are you motherfuckin' with me?" she asked her 25,000 fans. The cheering crowd, wearing the pink wristbands, roared a resounding, "Yeah," many of them holding aloft rainbow flags and rainbow-coloured posters with "No Fear" printed in all-caps. Performing in black lingerie, the singer also had the words "No Fear" scrawled on her back. 

During the show, scenes of gaybashings from demonstrations in Russia, photos of teenagers who died because of homophobia, and many gay and lesbian kisses were shown during the very political "Nobody Knows Me" video interlude.

Nine plaintiffs said they were "desperate" to make Madonna pay for their "moral suffering" following her performance, Pink News notes. But the judge reportedly lost his temper during the proceedings, the Russian Legal Information Agency says in a live text report of the case.

One plaintiff's representative alleges that the pop star's actions affect traditional families and lead to divorce, the agency report notes. Another complains about the poor conditions in Europe, "especially in those countries where same-sex marriage is legalized," and blames "such as Madonna" for that.

The judge, who is variously described as "puzzled" and "particularly frustrated" at different times during the hearing, told the plaintiffs he was "curious why the claim is lodged against Madonna alone." He also called for data regarding the number of divorces caused by homosexuality versus those caused by alcoholism.

In the end, the judge reportedly rejected the plaintiffs' claims in full after the six-hour hearing.

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