During a panel at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, Sir Elton John launched a scathing attack against Russia and other Eastern European governments for their treatment of LGBT people.

John, a vocal AIDS activist, said that such discrimination hurts efforts to end the epidemic.

“I’m so anti what’s going on for the LGBT community throughout eastern Europe. We’re here to protect them and for everyone who’s HIV [positive] but especially for the LGBT community that have suffered so badly and are still suffering and it makes me crazy,” said John. “If there wasn’t this discrimination we could get rid of the disease far quicker.”

“Until we get that idea out of our head that gay people are less than then I am afraid we will still be sitting here in twenty years time discussing the same thing.”

“To be an LGBT person in Russia is very difficult,” he added.

Rates of new infections rose 30 percent in the Eastern European and Central Asia region between 2010 and 2017. The region has the world's highest rate of infections.

(Related: Prince Harry, Sir Elton John launch AIDS initiative in Amsterdam.)