Blondie passed on the opportunity to perform a 45-minute set in Sochi during the Winter Olympics, citing concerns over civil rights abuses in Russia as their rationale for rejecting the big gig.
“Blondie has always been a part of the downtown community in NYC, with many, many friends who represent alternative lifestyles," frontwoman Debbie Harry said in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. "We feel very strongly about these friendships and associations, and don’t feel good about participating in a situation where biases and prejudices are paramount."
A photo of an offer letter for the Russian Red Rocks Festival was posted to the band's official Twitter account, with the words "PASS" and "human rights" handwritten over it:
— Debbie Harry/BLONDIE (@BlondieOfficial) February 7, 2014
Russia's crackdown on gay citizens has drawn international outcry from artists and politicians alike. President Barack Obama did not attend the opening ceremony in Sochi, and was taken as protesting Russia's treatment of its LGBT community by selecting openly gay delegates (Billie Jean King, one such delegate, had to cancel her trip for personal reasons).
International criticism notwithstanding, Russian authorities arrested a number of activists under the nation's controversial laws on "gay propaganda." Ten LGBT activists were arrested on the same day as the opening ceremony.
Blondie recently performed at Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert in Brooklyn.