KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Elton John has called on Ukraine's business leaders to accept gays in the workplace, telling them that policies "designed to repress LGBT citizens ... hinder economic development."

John, who is gay and an outspoken activist, spoke to hundreds of business and political leaders at a high-profile forum in Kiev.

The singer pointed to studies showing that emerging economies which protect LGBT rights have a higher gross domestic product per capita. He says "so being tolerant and inclusive is not only the morally right thing to do, for the new Ukraine, it's the smart thing to do."

The British singer and composer played two outdoor concerts in Kiev in 2007 and 2012 to raise awareness for Ukraine's AIDS epidemic, which is the worst in Europe.