ABC News’ Lama Hasan, Felicia Patinkin and Doug Vollmayer report:
Pop sensation Selena Gomez is finding herself caught up in an international controversy.
Scheduled to perform in St. Petersburg and Moscow next week, Gomez’s representatives say both performances have been cancelled “due to complications with visa applications and timing.”
But now some are speculating that Gomez is the latest victim of Russia’s controversial crackdown on performers who publicly favor gay rights. According to the newspaper The Moscow Times, the Russian authorities are tightening access to visas after Madonna and Lady Gaga voiced opposition to the country’s new anti-gay law.
“Many do point to the fact that many other western pop stars have used the stage as a platform to speak out about the anti-gay acts going on in Russia,” Us Weekly magazine Entertainment Director, Ian Drew, told ABC News. “They felt that maybe Selena could do that herself.”
Increased violence against gays and the passage of a law that makes it illegal to even speak about homosexuality in front of children has prompted performers including Lady Gaga to denounce the country’s anti-gay policies.
“This is my house, Russia. You can be gay in my house,” Gaga announced while performing in St. Petersburg last year.
Madonna made similar comments. “Gay people here and all around the world have the same rights,” the “Material Girl” said.
On Sept. 18, a Change.org petition asked Gomez to stand in solidarity with Russia’s LGBT community, a request many think may have caused the visa complications.
But that hasn’t deterred Sir Elton John, who, just this week, told The Guardian, “I’m supposed to be going to Moscow in December. I’ve got to go. … 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.”
John wants to lend support to the gay community by having a concert in Russia, but there’s no word yet if he’s actually been granted a visa. Meanwhile, Cher turned down a chance to perform in the opening ceremonies in the Winter Olympics in Russia, citing the anti-gay laws.