UK: Elton John urges people to ‘shout down the bigots’ in 60th birthday statement

Sir Elton John today (22 March) urged people to ‘shout down’ homophobia, ‘whether the bigot is in our local pub or a thousand miles away,’ in a New Statesman article to mark his commitment to Amnesty International and human rights ahead of his 60th birthday this weekend.

Elton drew particular attention to the case of William Hernandez, a gay rights activist from El Salvador who was threatened at gunpoint and had his offices raided last year when his organisation, Entre Amigos, campaigned against political moves to amend the constitution to formally prevent gay marriage.

Elton asked people to go to www.amnesty.org.uk/william and join Amnesty’s campaign to ensure the safety of William and others like him.

Writing in the New Statesman, Elton said:

“In December 2005 I was legally bound to the man I love. It’s my legal right and my human right. And I wanted everyone to know – I wanted to shout about it.

“In some countries, my voice would have been drowned out. Maybe even stamped out.

“In some European countries the bigots have a loud voice. Pride marches are banned in some east European cities.

“Men and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are persecuted and attacked every day all over the world, just because of who they love and who they make love to.

“This weekend is my 60th birthday and I want to shine a spotlight on William Hernandez and the many, many individuals who stand up for human rights around the world, at great risk to their personal safety.

“People like William are a lot braver than me. When the bigots shout abuse, they shout back.

“My voice has served me pretty well over the years; I hope maybe it can do him some good too. But we need more voices.

“Whether the bigot is in our local pub or a thousand miles away, we should all stand up and speak out for these basic human rights.”

The article is part of a monthly New Statesman column in association with Amnesty International called It Could Have Been Me, in which well-known UK figures profile Amnesty cases. In previous columns Anita Roddick has written about the persecuted Chinese businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, Clive Anderson has profiled imprisoned Iranian lawyer Nasser Zarafshan and Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams last month profiled an imprisoned clergyman from Equatorial Guinea.

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