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Madonna sued in Russia for $10m over gay support

Several Russian activists have filed a $10 million lawsuit against Madonna, claiming they were offended by the pop diva's support of homosexuals during her recent show.

MOSCOW // Several Russian activists have filed a $10 million lawsuit against Madonna, claiming they were offended by the pop diva's support of homosexuals during her recent show, their lawyer said today.

"On Friday, a 333-million-ruble ($10.3 million) lawsuit was filed against Madame Louise Veronica Ciccone who calls herself Madonna," Alexander Pochuyev, a lawyer representing the activists said.

He also said the suit targeted the organisers of Madonna's show in Saint Petersburg this month as well as the concert hall.

A spokeswoman for the Moscow District Court in Saint Petersburg confirmed the lawsuit had been received, adding the court would decide by the end of the week whether to accept it.

The nine plaintiffs, including activists from the Trade Union of Russian Citizens, claim there were offended by Madonna's support for gays.

During her show in Russia's former imperial capital the pop icon stripped to her bra to reveal the words "No Fear!" written on her back and called on her fans to show "love and appreciation for the gay community."

Pochuyev also said the plaintiffs accused Madonna of trampling on a cross during her highly-theatrical performance playing on religious themes.

Saint Petersburg earlier this year passed a citywide law that fines those "promoting homosexuality" to minors, even though homosexuality is not a crime in the country.

Russia legalised homosexuality in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union but only ceased to classify it as a mental disorder in 1999, and homophobic attitudes still run high in the country.

Gay activists had earlier called on Madonna to cancel her concerts in Russia as a gesture of support for the gay community.

The US pop diva also angered the Russian authorities with her support of three members of punk band Pussy Riot, saying during her Moscow show she was praying for them.

Madonna said the sentencing was "unjust" after a Russian court handed the three women a two-year prison sentence on Friday for hooliganism over an anti-Vladimir Putin stunt in a Moscow cathedral in February.

"I urge artists around the world to speak up in protest against this travesty," she said in a statement on her official website on Saturday.

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