Challenge Anti-Gay Bigots, Says Elton John

Sir Elton John has marked his 60th birthday by urging the public to speak out against homophobia, in a strongly worded article that highlights the violence faced by gay people all over the world. In a piece published in the Guardian and New Statesman today, the singer asks people to “shout down” homophobia whether it happens “in the local pub or a thousand miles away”.

He revealed his fears over the public reaction to his wedding to David Furnish and his concern that it could be spoiled by “abusive, banner-waving bigots”.

Sir Elton said: “In December 2005 I was legally bound to the man I love. It’s my legal right and my human right. And I wanted everyone to know, I wanted to shout about it. In some countries my voice would have been drowned out … in some European countries the bigots have a loud voice.” He said the criminalisation of gay sex by more than 80 countries encouraged persecution of gay people and the suppression of information that could help prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.

“Men and women are persecuted and attacked every day all over the world, just because of who they love and who they make love to.”

Sir Elton drew attention to William Hernandez, a gay rights activist from El Salvador who was subjected to a campaign of intimidation and threatened at gunpoint last year. Hernandez, whose organisation Entre Amigos (Between Friends) had been protesting against moves to amend the constitution to prevent gay marriage, was told by his attacker he would be killed before he could get married. Sir Elton said: “I want to shine a spotlight on [him] and the many, many, individuals who stand up for human rights around the world … people like William are a lot braver than me because when the bigots shout abuse, they shout back at them … so today, I shout out to William, a brave guy doing a dangerous and vital job. My voice has served me pretty well over the years; I hope maybe it can do him some good too. But we need more voices. Whether the bigot is in our local pub or a thousand miles away, we should all stand up and speak out for these basic human rights.”

The singer, who founded the Elton John Aids Foundation charity, approached Amnesty International before his birthday this weekend to ask how he could show his support. Last year he told concert-goers in Warsaw: “There is enough hatred in the world. Leave gay people alone.”