TV host Andy Cohen will not host this year’s Miss Universe pageant in Russia, saying he doesn’t “feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia.” Cohen has co-hosted the Miss Universe pageant the past two years.
The host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live cited Russia’s recently passed laws that ban all forms of “homosexual propaganda,” and allow police to jail and fine anyone who is suspected of being gay or supportive of gay rights. “The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested,” Cohen told Miss Universe co-host Giuliana Rancic of E! News.
Cohen added, “Their discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit.”
The Miss Universe competition is scheduled to take place in Moscow on Nov. 9.
An online petition posted on Change.org, first started by Francesco Pascuzzi, a gay fan of the Miss Universe pageant, now has over 20,000 signatures urging the Miss Universe pageant to be relocated from Russia. There are additional concerns with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia; Olympians are worried about having to abide by President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws with little reassurance about the safety of lesbian and gay competitors from the International Olympic Committee.
Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir said last week that both he and his husband will travel to Sochi if he qualifies for the team.
“If I get arrested, or if I get beaten up, I hope that it will serve as making a point to the world that this is something that needs to change,” Weir told msnbc’s Thomas Roberts.