Speaking at the Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting in Kiev, Sir Elton John called for tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people. He was addressing global political and business leaders at the annual gathering to promote dialogue between Ukraine and the rest of Europe.
Sir Elton, who has visited the Ukraine at least five times, highlighted a recent Gay Pride rally which lasted all of 10 minutes due to disruption and violence from homophobic hooligans to illustrate how further the Ukraine has yet to change in its acceptance of gay people. In particular, he urged business leaders to drive change as studies show that diverse economies and workforces stimulate economic development and innovation.
Sir Elton said in his speech;
“I suggest to you that accepting people regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation is today the measure of an open, tolerant, and democratic society. I ask you to begin this dialogue. I ask you to reach for a level of compassion that you may not think possible. I ask you on behalf of myself but also for all LGBT citizens of Ukraine and the world. This is a moral imperative. Let us not fail each other.”
The Elton John AIDS Foundation has been caring for people with HIV in the Ukraine since 2001and has supported over 40 projects to date. Sir Elton has a deep affection for the country and ended his speech by looking back at the concert in Kiev’s Maidan Square where he performed in front of 300,000 people in 2007:
“That night it felt like everyone there on Maidan was on the right side of history. It’s the Maidan I long to see in the new Ukraine – proud and beautiful, where everyone is welcome.”
Sir Elton later met with Ukrainian President Victor Poroshenko where he again urged for greater tolerance and reaffirmed his foundation’s commitment to helping people with HIV in Ukraine.