Selena Gomez at the 2013 Young Hollywood Awards (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
The hugely popular U.S. singer was reportedly denied a visa by the Russian government due to her pro gay-rights stance, which is perceived as a potential violation of the country's notorious anti-gay laws.
Selena has long been an ally and supporter of the gay community, although she's not used her concerts before as a platform for gay rights.
Her rep tells omg! the singer has no comment at this time; the tour promoter would only say the September 23 show at the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg and a September 25 concert at Olimpiisky stadium in Moscow were nixed "due to complications with visa applications and timing."
But, according to The Moscow Times, the government has been cracking down on foreign singers perceived to be allies of the gay community. Gomez may be a victim of previous statements made by Madonna and Lady Gaga, who spoke out in support of LGBT rights during their concerts in Russia in 2012. In August, the Russian government said that should they return to the country the women could face prosecution for having violated the terms of their visas.
A petition on Change.com to get Selena not to perform in Russia has reached over 13,000 signatures. It's not clear whether the visa denial took place before or after the petition was launched, or if there was any connection between the petition and the concert cancellations.
However, at least one promoter in Russia's arts industry is concerned that Russia's stance will ultimately hurt his country. Yevgeny Finkelstein, head of the St. Petersburg-based PMI media holding, told RIA Novosti in August that he's worried that "Not one artist, circus or exhibition will come here if the prosecutor's office fines someone now."
Although many American artists and athletes — such as Wentworth Miller, Cher, and Johnny Weir — have been speaking out about traveling to Russia due to the anti-gay law, one very popular musician is taking a different stance. Elton John says he plans to move forward with his scheduled trip there in December.
"I'm supposed to be going to Moscow in December," the "Rocket Man" singer told The Guardian last week. "I've got to go. And I've got to think about what I'm going to say very carefully. There's two avenues of thought: do you stop everyone going, ban all the artists coming in from Russia? But then you're really leaving the men and women who are gay and suffering under the anti-gay laws in an isolated situation. As a gay man, I can't leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to go."
That move has the support of GLAAD. "Entertainers and artists who visit Russia and support the LGBT community now have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with LGBT Russians," a spokesperson for the gay-rights group tells omg!
"If the Russian government plans to punish entertainers or visitors who do not share their anti-LGBT attitudes, it's the Russian citizens who will be negatively impacted. If Selena was denied a visa because she supports LGBT people, it's merely the latest flawed attempt by the Russian government to block the growing number of people around the world who are appalled at the violence and anti-LGBT laws that LGBT Russians are forced to endure."
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