British rockers Judas Priest were banned from any making gay references during a show in Russia following a stern warning from local officials.

Frontman Rob Halford, who 'came out' as homosexual in 1998, has revealed staff of the mayor's office in Saint Petersburg ordered the band to avoid referencing gay rights issues at their gig in the city in 2012.

The singer adhered to rule, but insists his presence in Russia was a political statement in itself.

Halford tells British magazine Mojo, "When we played in Saint Petersburg recently, the mayor's office told us not to make any references to gay rights. But I wouldn't have wanted to do that anyway. I'm not an activist, but just me standing on that stage in that very homophobic place was a victory. I didn't have to go on waving a rainbow banner. I am the rainbow flag of metal. I consider it a triumph, just the fact of us playing there."

Tensions are high around the subject of homosexuality in Russia as it was only decriminalised in 1993 and laws banning the promotion of gay issues to youngsters have been the subject of mass international debate.