Rock star Elton John is working to use his global fame and charitable foundations to help overturn homophobic laws around the world, telling CNBC that he could petition the queen to force Commonwealth countries to revoke anti-gay legislation and that he was looking forward to meeting President Vladimir Putin after Russian leader extended the "olive branch" to him.
On Thursday John and his husband, David Furnish, will unveil a new partnership with the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), with the Elton John AIDS Foundation and PEPFAR each contributing $5 million to a fund to increase access to medication for people with HIV and AIDS in countries that are prejudiced toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
The fund's early focus will be on sub-Saharan Africa. There are 34 countries in Africa where it's illegal to be homosexual, with some threatening the death penalty.
"We're seeing an alarming growth in infections amongst these communities [where] we find that LGBT people are stigmatized where they live," John told CNBC's Tania Bryer.
"It stigmatizes the disease and the conditions where they live and so they don't come out and have HIV tests. They feel nervous about going on the medication, about being labelled or branded as someone with HIV, so we really have to go in and attack the root of the problem and that is the stigmatization and the lack of safe access to treatment and advice and counselling.
"Otherwise, we won't stop the disease in its tracks."