Entertainer and Aids campaigner Sir Elton John is keen to meet Russian president over his "ridiculous" attitude to the LGBT community. The British singer was speaking at a conference in Ukraine, where he met with President Petro Poroshenko to lobby him about LGBT rights.
John attacked Putin of saying "stupid things", referring to the president's warning to gay people coming to watch the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to "leave the children in peace". John told the BBC: "Give me a break. You are president of Russia, and you go and say stupid things like that?"
In 2013, Russia banned the promotion of "non-traditional" sexuality – seen as an attack on gay rights. Under the law, providing information on homosexuality to under-18s is a crime, punishable by a fine.
Critics say its interpretation is aimed at stopping gay rights protests in Russia. Putin's attitude to gay people was "isolating and prejudiced" and "ridiculous", John added.
"I would like to meet (Putin). It's probably pie in the sky… He may laugh behind my back when he shuts the door, and call me an absolute idiot, but at least I can think I have the conscience to say I tried."
The singer thanked Poroshenko for his "support" after meeting him. He said on Instagram: "After speaking at the YES Ukraine 2015 Conference today in Kiev, I met with Ukraine President Poroshenko about the importance of legislative changes to support LGBT rights.
"Specifically, I asked him to: 1. Ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexuality and gender identity. 2. Provide criminal penalties for hate crimes. We need Ukrainian businessmen and power brokers to create a more inclusive and tolerant society. We need this everywhere!"
John has called on Ukrainians to be more accepting of LGBT people, and to ban policies "designed to repress LGBT citizens… hinder economic development," the activist told a meeting of business and political leaders in Kiev, according to the Associated Press.
Countries, even developing ones, that recognize LGBT rights have a higher per capita gross domestic product than those that are less tolerant, John said in an Advocate report. "So being tolerant and inclusive is not only the morally right thing to do, for the new Ukraine, it's the smart thing to do."