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The Eurovision Dilemma: What if Russia wins?

The Eurovision Dilemma: What if Russia wins?

Russia is the hot favorite to win Eurovision 2016, and if they won they would host the event in 2017. Russia’s homophobic stance and banning of any LGBTI promotion has got many fans concerned about visiting Russia next year.

When pressed on the issue this week, Russian singer Sergey Lazarev answered that fans will be safe in Russia and there is gay life in all major cities. He added that Russia has recently held other major events, such as the Olympics, with a diverse range of people attending that passed without incident.

However, some fans remain unconvinced. GSN asked several fans across Europe whether they would attend a Eurovision in Russia and if they were to go, would they feel safe?

I’m afraid”, confided Shai Glam from Israel. “That’s why i didn’t fly a few years ago [to Moscow]. One of my friends got bitten there by a homophobic person and needed hospital treatment.”

Colin Bodels, and Irishman living in the US, also had concerns. “I don’t think I would go. It’s the country human rights/anti gay stance that would make me pause rather than feeling unsafe. For similar reasons I would not want to visit or give business to certain states in the US.”

Mark and Julio, a couple from Ireland and Ecuador, are ready to pack their suitcases for Russia. “We say yes although would be more conscious of our surroundings so would not feel comfortable being 100% open. We love Eurovison and would want to be there if we can.”

I would go.” Anita Newport from the UK confirmed. “When we went to last one [in Moscow], we felt very secure. I would go to show we aren’t frightened of the world.”

Christian Kaad of Denmark was also quick to agree. “Of course I will go to Russia. I went to Azerbaijan and it was really jam packed with security – on sea, on ground, everywhere. It was massive and, if Azerbaijan could do it, then so can Russia. I would go to Russia to show support for the gay people in Russia. My statement of not showing up would do nothing for them.”

But Kaad had previously had a difficult situation in Belgrade in 2008 when Serbia hosted the competition.

I was out with a friend and there were some drunk policeman playing with their guns in a bar. My friend (who happens to be black) mentioned something about Eurovision and they made racial slurs. They are the ones who should be making us feel safe. I didn’t feel safe at all.”

Andy Everiss from the United Kingdom thought hosting Eurovision would be an interesting test for Russia. “They may not have the best laws but having to host it would surely be a test and hopefully a demonstration to the rest of the world that they can do it. Having just returned from the United Arab Emirates where I believe it’s death penalty [for homosexuality] I felt safe and comfortable and have traveled to other such counties.”

Bodels struggles to understand why Russia wants to win this competition so badly. “Eurovision is a highly popular gay event/destination, why aggressively court that audience when as s country you are so anti gay?”

But Kaad questions whether Eurovision is becoming too gay. “I do think last year’s Eurovision in Vienna was a little cliché with all of the LGBT references. Gays don’t have exclusive rights to Eurovision”

The final word goes to Martin Phillips, a British citizen living in the United States. “While I have issues with their political stance, we should show them that we are just regular people”