Wondering who to support for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest?
Sure, you could judge countries on their songs, but you should also take the whole picture into account too — and here’s why.
The country you vote for to win could host the competition next year. And if you want to attend — open and out as an LGBTI person — you need to know you’re going to feel safe when you do.
Eurovision 2019 is already one of the most political yet
Although the premise of Eurovision is to not make political statements (the rules actually state: ‘no lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted’) the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest already promises to be one of the most political yet.
Israel’s longstanding tumultuous relationship with Palestine automatically makes the song contest political.
In fact, more than 60 queer and trans liberation organizations are calling for a boycott of Eurovision.
The majority of signatories are Palestinian queer groups. Others include the National LGBT Committee for UNISON, ACT UP groups in France and the UK, and the Gay Liberation Network.
Some activists are concerned Israel is co-opting LGBTI rights as a ‘public relations tool to hide its crimes against Palestinians’.
However, Assi Azar, a gay Israeli man who is one of the four presenters this year, believes boycotting sends a ‘message of hate’.
It’s important to stay informed about political discourse within each country competing in Eurovision.
For this reason, we used ILGA-Europe’s 2018 LGBTI-friendly list (with some help from the Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2019 for the non-European countries) to work out the countries that are best for LGBTI equality.
Here’s the list from best to worst, alongside each performance this year:
Malta is the clear front runner for LGBTI rights out of any country competing in Eurovision this year. They scored a total of 94.04%, eclipsing the next highest score of 78.76%.
The southern European island country boasts same-sex marriage, equal age of consent laws, anti-discrimination laws, transgender rights and even blood donation for men who have sex with men.
The only area Malta faults on is access to surrogacy for gay male couples, but this is a blanket ban regardless of sexual orientation.
4. United Kingdom
27. Czech Republic
*Ukraine will no longer take part in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, due to political differences between the country’s broadcaster and singer Maruv.
36. North Macedonia
39. San Marino
Azerbaijan is the clear worst country out of all the Eurovision entrants this year when it comes to living openly as an LGBTI person.
Although same-sex sexual activity and equal age of consent laws exist, there’s no anti-discrimination laws, rights for same-sex couples, same-sex marriage, transgender rights or surrogacy and adoption rights.
In fact, authorities randomly captured and tortured LGBTI people in 2017.