Selena Gomez had to cancel the Russian leg of her tour because Russian officials denied her visa request, The Moscow Times reports. Concert organizers blamed Russian's anti-gay laws as the reason for the singer's visa denial.
The laws, signed by President Vladimir Putin in July, ban "propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships" to minors, adoption by gay couples or people who live in countries that have same-sex marriage equality, and allow for gay or "pro-gay" tourists to be arrested or detained for up to two weeks in Russia before being expelled from the country.
Two days before Gomez was denied a Russian visa, gay rights activist John Becker started a Change.org petition asking the singer to speak out for LGBTQ Russians at her upcoming two concerts there. "Selena Gomez knows all too well what it's like to be bullied, and as an international pop star she has a unique platform — and a special obligation — to join other celebrities like Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Cher in speaking out against the Russian government's bullying of LGBT people. By speaking out, Selena can let LGBT folks in Russia know that we stand with them, and that they are not alone," Becker wrote. As of now, the petition has 14,360 signatures.
Last year, Lady Gaga and Madonna both used their concerts in Russia as platforms to openly support LGBTQ rights, inspiring Russian officials to become stricter with which performers they give visas to. Both singers were also threatened with potential prosecution and Madonna was even sued by conservative Russian activists for violating the new anti-gay laws.