Fact Check

Did Elton John Say He Will Not Perform in the US Due to Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation?

The rumor spread as the British pianist wrapped up what was reported to be his final tour.

Published Jun 26, 2023

 ( Kate Green/Contributor, Getty Images)
Image Via Kate Green/Contributor, Getty Images
In an interview that published in June 2023, Elton John said he would no longer perform in the U.S. due to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

In the interview, John said he "will no longer hold residencies in America" — a statement that is not synonymous with "will not perform at all in the country." In a separate comment during the same interview, he criticized "a growing swell of anger and homophobia that's around America," citing a law in Florida that allows doctors to deny patients treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation. However, he did not say these trends were the reason he decided not to accept another U.S. residency.

In June 2023, claims began to spread across social media platforms that Elton John said he would not perform future shows in the U.S. because of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. The rumor spread as the British entertainer wrapped up what was reported to be his final tour, ending with a June 25 concert at the Glastonbury Festival.

One of the most prominent posts with the claim was shared on Twitter on June 24, including a link to a story from the far-right website Epoch Times with the headline, "Elton John Singles Out Anti-Grooming Laws as Why He's Done Performing in the US." 

We found other posts on Twitter with the Epoch Times article attached. We also found posts with the claim on Reddit, Tiktok, and Facebook.

The claim was also spread by news venues. An authentic June 20 tweet by The Washington Post (archived here) read, "British singer Elton John has criticized anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the United States, singling out "laws enacted in Florida" as "disgraceful," and says he will no longer hold residencies in America." The linked article has been corrected since its original publication. 

The Guardian published an article that implied the claim, as well, writing in a subheadline: "Singer says he will no longer do residencies in the US, describing recent changes in law as 'disgraceful'."

The rumor stemmed from a Radio Times interview with John that published in June 2023, ahead of his Glastonbury Festival performance, and was a conflation of two separate comments the British pianist made during the interview. (The Radio Times interview was not freely available online, as of this writing. We purchased the specific issue of the magazine to complete this fact check.)

It was true that John said he wouldn't do another residency in America in the interview — though he did not explain why, and he did not say he would never again perform in the U.S. in any capacity (for example, one-off performances). While discussing his future career plans, he said about future live performances:

I said when I announced the farewell tour that maybe I would do a residency like Kate Bush did at Hammersmith [Apollo in 2014], but not in America. I will not do it in America. But that's in the long term. I don't want to think about the stage — I've been on it since I was 17.

John previously performed two concert residencies in Las Vegas: February 2004 to April 2009, and September 2011 to May 2018. On June 20, 2023, The New York Times reported John's representatives said Johns' family living in the U.K. was the reason he didn't want to do another residency in America. (We reached out to John's representatives to independently verify that reporting and will update this fact check if we hear back.)

In a separate comment during the Radio Times interview, John criticized "a growing swell of anger and homophobia that's around America," citing a law in Florida that allows doctors to deny patients treatment based on their moral or ethnic beliefs, which advocates worried would be used disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized communities. The Guardian published an opinion article about the law on May 16, 2023, with the headline, "Are you a doctor who hates treating gay people? Come to Florida, where Ron DeSantis has legalised bigotry."

John said:

Well, it's all going pear-shaped in America. There's violence, [discriminatory] laws enacted in Florida, which are disgraceful. There's a law now that, if you visit a doctor in Florida, they can refuse to treat you if you're gay, which I find just unbelievable. We seem to be going backwards. And that spreads. It's like a virus that the LGBTQ+ movement is suffering. I don't like it at all. It's a growing swell of anger and homophobia that's around America.

That said, he did not say such trends were the reason for his decision to not accept another U.S. residency. 

In sum, while John said he wouldn't do another residency in the U.S. — a statement that isn't the same as him allegedly saying he would never perform in the country under any circumstances — and discussed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the same interview, he didn't say the latter caused the former. They were two separate, unrelated comments. Therefore, we rated this claim "False."


News 3 Staff. "Elton John Announces Final Shows of His Caesars Palace Residency." KSNV, 16 Oct. 2017, https://news3lv.com/news/local/elton-john-announces-final-shows-of-his-caesars-palace-residency.

Rosman, Rebecca. "Elton John Will Give His Final Performance at the Glastonbury Festival." NPR, 25 June 2023. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2023/06/25/1184198911/elton-john-will-gives-his-final-performance-at-the-glastonbury-festival.

Salam, Maya. "Elton John Warns of 'Growing Swell of Anger and Homophobia' in U.S." The New York Times, 20 June 2023. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/20/arts/music/elton-john-lgbtq-rights.html.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.

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