As a lifelong pageant fan, I’m shocked and disappointed that the Miss Universe Organization has chosen to host its competition this year in Russia, where LGBTQ people are under attack.
Over the last few months, aggressive and discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted in Russia. On July 3rd, 2013, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law preventing the adoption of Russian-born children to gay couples, and to couples and/or individuals living in any country where marriage equality exists in any shape or form. This shameful piece of legislation came on the heels of other laws, also signed by president Putin earlier in 2013, which allow Russian police to arrest and detain Russian citizens and foreign tourists suspected of being homosexuals or of pushing a pro-LGBTQ agenda. Another recently enacted law labeling "homosexual propaganda" as pornography puts anyone making pro-gay statements to underage individuals at risk of being fined and/or arrested.
Pictures of a recent Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg which ended in bloody beatings and arrests have now surfaced on the Internet, as well. Being gay in Russia is today equal to being a criminal. Russia is no longer a safe destination and host country. When the Miss Universe Organization allowed transgender beauty Jenna Talackova to enter the Miss Universe Canada pageant in 2012, reversing its previous policies on the matter, it sent a strong and unequivocal message in favor of equality and of the LGBTQ community. Choosing Russia as a host country undermines this progress.
Many Miss Universe fans, myself included, identify as LGBTQ -- and surely many employees of the organization are, as well. How are any of these people, who might want or will have to attend the event, supposed to travel to Russia under these new laws and feel safe, when they could (and likely will) be beaten, arrested and/or detained on the spot for being who they are? Clearly, there is more at stake here than the organization’s reputation.
With this petition, we are asking the Miss Universe Organization to send a strong message in favor of equality and human rights by pulling out from hosting the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.