Bil Browning

Eurovision contestants threaten walkout of Russian finale

Filed By Bil Browning | May 15, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Politics
Tags: anti-gay violence, boycott, Eurovision, gay rights, Moscow, Russia

Contestants and staff are threatening to boycott the Eurovision singing competition's Moscow finale over horrendous treatment of the LGBT community. Past gay pride marches have been marred with violence and police brutality. Organizers plan on holding a rally on the day of the finale, but Moscow authorities have denied the groups permission to hold the demonstration. The groups plan on demonstrating regardless and they're drawing quite a bit of attention to the cause.

Already, one Eurovision contestant has said he will walk out of the competition if violence flares at the proposed demonstration.

"If we get to the final and the demonstration is suppressed by force, I will refuse to get on that stage in Moscow," Gordon, the singer and songwriter from the Dutch group De Toppers, told Dutch television. "If my kind of people are discriminated against in any way, then there is no reason for me to be here; I'll be on the first plane home."
The prospect of activists turning the Eurovision Song Contest - and the huge media ensemble that surrounds it - into a platform to showcase Russia's shabby record on protecting gay rights will come as an acute embarrassment to Moscow.

Despite the contest's being famed for its camp and sequined performers, Russia had hoped that its ability to put on a grand and spectacular show would overshadow any protests from the homosexual community. But this objective appears to be in danger of floundering in a growing wave of publicity concerning gay rights in Russia.

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