Madonna is claiming the Russian government fined her $1 million for a speech in 2012 she made supporting LGBTQ rights at a concert in St. Petersburg, but never paid the fine. The singer shared a clip of the address on Instagram and Twitter Sunday, captioning it, "I made this speech at a concert in St. Petersburg 8 years ago. I was fined 1 million dollars by The government for supporting the Gay community."
"I never paid.................... #freedomofspeech #powertothepeople," she concluded. In the speech, Madonna says, "I am here to say that the gay community and gay people, here and all around the world, have the same rights to be treated with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love. Are you with me?" Crowds continued to cheer as Madonna repeatedly asked for them to show love for the gay community before the speech clip came to an end.
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Reliving that speech, many of Madonna's fans praised her for standing up for equality even with the consequences leveled against her. "I love you for that and for all you represent!" one person wrote. Another chimed in, "Always the trailblazer! Love you."
While the Russian Embassy and U.S. Embassy in Moscow did not respond to NBC News' request to confirm Madonna's claims of a $1 million fine, the tour dates from the singer's MDNA tour do line up with her story. At the time of Madonna's Russian visit, St. Petersburg officials were debating a "gay propaganda" bill, eventually passed in 2013, which prohibited advocating anything but heterosexual world views to minors.
At the time, Madonna wrote on her website that she would not remain quiet on LGBTQ rights, calling herself a "freedom fighter." She continued, "I will come to St. Petersburg to speak up for the gay community, to support the gay community and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels opressed (sic). I don't run away from adversity. I will speak during my show about this ridiculous atrocity."
Following her Russian appearance, a collection of anti-gay groups attempted to sue Madonna for $10.7 million, but Russian judges ultimately dismissed the suit, noting that the law applied to minors, and people who bought tickets for her concert had to be over 18 years old, according to Pink News.