Miss Universe competition to go ahead in Russia
Despite calls for a boycott from former host Andy Cohen and growing community outrage of Russia’s anti-gay laws, the Miss Universe competition is going ahead in Russia later this year.
Cohen, who has hosted the pageant for the past two years, said he would not participate in the Miss Universe competition this year since Russia’s “discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit".
"The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested," said Cohen. "I didn't feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia."
In response to Cohen’s calls for a boycott, the Miss Universe organisation, owned by Donald Trump, released a statement to media today saying while it is concerned by Russia’s new anti gay laws and the violence experienced by the LGBTI community, the November 9 pageant will go ahead as planned.
The statement said: “In our 60-year history we have witnessed, and been a party to, many social changes including those within the LGBT community. It has been our experience that the Miss Universe pageant provides a forum through which contestants from more than 90 countries, as well as their families and friends, forge bonds with citizens of a host country, helping to serve as a catalyst for social change.”
Paula Shugart, the president of the Miss Universe organisation, told The Advocate she hoped the pageant would shine a spotlight on injustices. “I think any time people can put a spotlight on something and discuss it, that goes a long way to helping social change.”
There is currently a petition on change.org urging the Miss Universe pageant to change venues to send a message for equality and human rights. So far more than 28,000 people have signed. You can add your name by clicking the link above.