After Miss Universe co-host Andy Cohen publicly stated that he wouldn’t participate in this year’s event, scheduled to be held in Russia in November 2013, the Miss Universe organization has his back—even if their plans haven’t changed. The organization released a statement criticizing Russia’s anti-LGBT laws banning “homosexual propaganda” as “diametrically opposed to the core values” of the organization.
“The Miss Universe Organization believes in equality for all individuals and is deeply concerned by the laws recently enacted in Russia and currently in place in several other countries,” reads the statement. “Both the law, as well as the violence experienced by the LGBT community in Russia, are diametrically opposed to the core values of our company. Our organization has always embodied a spirit of inclusion and is a celebration of people from all countries and walks of life.”
The boycott on the pageant’s location started after Francesco Pascuzzi created a change.org petition, which has gathered over 28,600 signatures.
“While I appreciate the Miss Universe Organization’s concern over Russia’s anti-gay policy, statements alone won’t protect gay staff and fans traveling to the pageant,” Pascuzzi replied in a statement of his own.
Miss Universe changed their policy in 2012 to include transgender participants.
“Miss Universe is an organization with incredible impact all around the globe. Following this important first statement, Miss Universe has a unique opportunity to continue to speak out against the anti-LGBT violence and laws in Russia and demonstrate that the international community does not support Russia’s anti-LGBT brutality,” said GLAAD spokesperson Omar Sharif Jr. in a press release.
On June 30, President Putin adopted several anti-LGBT laws to enforce protections for the youth as well as maintain the country’s Catholic Orthodox values. Miss Universe believes the safety of the contestants, crew and staff is “of the utmost importance and we are working with our Russian hosts to ensure the security and well-being of those traveling to Russia for the pageant.”
“It is our hope this year’s Miss Universe contest in Moscow will help foster a common understanding and appreciation of the rights of all individuals, regardless of their nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation,” the organization’s statement concluded. “In our sixty 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.”