Madonna sued by 9 Russians over gay rights

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Some Russian activists have sued Madonna for millions of dollars, claiming they were offended by her support for gay rights during a recent concert in St. Petersburg, The Associated Press reports.

Anti-gay sentiment is strong in Russia. St. Petersburg bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors, and the author of that law has pointed to the presence of children as young as 12 at Madonna's concert on Aug. 9.

The complaint includes a video taken at the concert that showed Madonna stomping on an Orthodox cross and asking fans to raise their hands to display the pink armbands distributed to them in support of gays and lesbians, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Alexander Pochuyev, a lawyer representing the nine activists, said the suit was filed against Madonna, the organizer of her concert, and the hall where it was held, asking for damages totaling nearly $10.5 million, RIA Novosti reported.

Responding to criticism that the plaintiffs were stuck in the Middle Ages, the lawyer said they were using civilized, modern methods to defend their rights. "No one is burning anyone at the stake or carrying out an Inquisition," Pochuyev was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying. "Modern civilization requires tolerance and respect for different values."

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Madonna's spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, did not immediately respond to emails asking for the singer's reaction to the lawsuit.

Madonna also has angered conservative Russians with her support of a punk band that held a protest inside Moscow's main cathedral against president Vladimir Putin and his cozy relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church. Three members of the band, Pussy Riot, were sentenced Friday to 2 years in prison for the protest.

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