Russia, Eurovision and LGBT rights

Monday, 18th May 2009 at 8:00 UTC Leave a comment

I was planning a post on Trans Visibility and Eurovision. But this has sadly been pre-empted by the response of Moscow police to a protest by Queer/LGBT activists in Moscow, with almost immediate arrests being made and a deliberate show of force against human rights, whilst another, nationalist march, was allowed to continue on the other side of the city.

For the last 5 years, the one night of the year when Trans people might get national TV coverage of a conceivably positive nature was Eurovision night. I’m not really sure how positive my Trans friends found the experience of watching Israeli performer Dana International win in 1998, but since then, T-people have been a regular feature, with up to 5 appearing on a single night.

With the spotlight now on the rather more conservative Russia, we’re to be treated to a year in which not a single out-T-person will perform, and in which the LGBT aspect of the festivities are being completely lost. Where Eurovision might just about have been a celebration of LGBT success in an open field, this year has been something of a backwards step.

But the fact is, Europe is a pretty mixed bag as far as LGBT rights is concerned. Almost no where has a decent set of T rights, but the situation with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual rights is a shifting sea of variance; Poland have even gone backwards, and there’s little sign of any EU interest in the matter, such as including LGB rights in European legislation. Mostly, marriage is a far cry, such as in Greece, which I was reminded last night has still made little progress.

LGBT rights are an issue-set which many feel is a done deal. It simply isn’t. Trans people still have almost no visibility, and campaigns to get them equality and facilities are regularly met with utter ridicule. And in countries like Iraq, being gay still results in death, despite whatever liberation Britain might wish to claim. Recently a dead man in Senegal was disinterred twice because he was Gay.

But tonight the eyes of Europe will be on Russia, and sadly with host-nation TV in charge of coverage, little will probably be made of the situation, especially seeing as Graham Norton is now the UK’s commentator. Even if there are no other areas in which LGBT people can make an impact in society, at least in entertainment, and through Eurovision, they can make something of a statement of their presence.

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Entry filed under: Culture, Europe, Gay Rights, Human Rights, News, Politics, Russia, Transgender.

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