Cher turns down Sochi Winter Olympics performance while Elton John heads to Russia

Cher has turned down an opportunity to sing at Russia's upcoming Winter Olympics over concerns about anti-gay legislation in the country.

The singer said she was invited by a Russian ogliarch to perform at the event, but declined in protest over new anti-gay laws, which make it illegal to teach youths under 18 about homosexuality.

"I immediately said no," she told Maclean's magazine. "I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there. He said the Russian people don’t feel the way their government does."

In June of this year, Russian President Vladmir Putin signed into a law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors." The legislation sparked international backlash from human rights campaigners and a number of high-profile celebrities, including Madonna and Lady Gaga.

Cher is a longtime advocate of LGBT rights and has long been considered a gay icon. Her son Chaz Bono underwent gender transition surgery in 2010.

Meanwhile, fellow entertainer and gay rights advocate Sir Elton John has revealed that he will perform in Russia come December, as a way to support the "gay and suffering" citizens of the country.

The 66-year-old openly gay singer told The Guardian that his planned concert in Moscow must go on, despite the threat of persecution that the new laws may pose.

"As a gay man, I can't leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to go.”

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