By Matthias Williams
KIEV (Reuters) – Elton John, on a visit to Ukraine to raise awareness about AIDS, said Ireland’s vote to liberalize its abortion laws showed how mindsets can change.
The 71-year-old singer has traveled regularly to Ukraine and spoken out for gay rights in the eastern European country, including at an AIDS charity concert in Kiev during the Euro soccer championships in 2012.
“Believe me, I love this country. We will do everything we can to continue the fight against AIDS,” he said at an event organized by the Elena Pinchuk Foundation.
“It takes a long time for things to happen as I said,” he said. “Look what just happened in Ireland: the vote for abortion. Things change. People … they change their mind. And with a younger generation coming up, they are different kind of people, and they’re our future.”
Voters in Ireland, a once deeply Catholic nation, on Friday backed a change to abortion laws by a landslide.
Ukrainian authorities have increased their support for gay rights since a pro-Western government took power following the Maidan protests in 2014. In 2015, a law was passed banning workplace discrimination against the LGBT community.
But critics say homophobic attitudes remain widespread.
Kiev was embroiled in gay rights row last year as it hosted the Eurovision Song Contest with a slogan to “Celebrate Diversity”. A plan to paint a Soviet-era monument in rainbow colors was resisted by hard-right groups.
The singer tried to adopt an HIV-positive baby in Ukraine 2009 but was refused permission by the authorities, who said prospective parents must be married and that Elton John’s civil partnership with David Furnish would not be recognized as such.
“We’ve made great progress but we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
(Editing by Alison Williams)