Russia’s new law prohibiting “homosexual propaganda” has set off protests around the globe. The law has essentially made it illegal to be gay in public and has set off a string of violent incidents across the country, including the torture and murder of 23-year-old Vladislav Tornovoi. Tornovoi was killed shortly after coming out.

So when Sir Elton John went to Moscow for two shows this past week, the host nation was a little on edge. “The only thing we can do as believers is to call the people not to give into the temptations of the devil and not attend [these] concerts,” said Seidzhagfar Lutfullin, one of Russia’s conservative imams.

Sir Elton responded by selling out his shows and verbally dedicating a night to Tornovoi onstage, an act which could have had him arrested on the spot. He also had this to say:

Music is a very powerful thing. It brings people together irrespective of their age, their race, their sexuality, or their religion. It does not discriminate. Look around you tonight. You see men, women, young and old, gay and straight. Thousands of Russian people enjoying the music. We’re all here together in harmony and harmony is what makes a happy family and a strong society.

Here’s a video of the speech:

This isn’t the first time a major artist has come under fire for their LGBT support. Madonna and Lady Gaga both faced lawsuits for their LGBT support after playing shows in Russia. And with the 2014 Olympics set to be held in the Russian town of Sochi, Russian homophobia doesn’t look like it’ll be out of the spotlight anytime soon.

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