Hovi Star – The Israeli entrant for this years Eurovision Song Contest – has claimed that Russian authorities at passport control ripped up his passport and laughed at him as he arrived in the country to perform at a Eurovision promo event with other contestants.
Hovi, who won Kokhav Nolad, the Isaeli version of singing competition Idol in 2009, said in a TV interview “In Moscow, people have a rough time with people like me, maybe because I’m gay, maybe because I dress like this, maybe because I wear makeup – I don’t know. But when I wanted to get into Moscow, I had problems with the passport control and they told me I can’t go in. They looked at my passport — they ripped my passport — and then they laughed at me.”
“It’s amazing that this happened in the Eurovision bubble. My song, “Made of Stars”, it talks about equality. It talks about how everyone is the same, everybody was born the same, everybody will die the same. And I always say, give love — it’s free. There’s no need for hate, there’s no need for negativity. And I choose to really take it as a lesson.”
Russian contestants have famously been booed in the last few years at the Eurovision Song Contest, thought to be a protest against the countries actions in the Ukraine along with their stance on laws claiming homosexuality to be illegal. The booing prompted producers to install “anti-booing technology” to cover the noise to viewers.
However, on Russia’s contestant Sergey, Hovi said “I don’t take it personally. I have to tell you, I really like Sergey Lazarev, I really like his song, and I like Russia. I’ve been there many times. But it wasn’t a nice experience, but we live, we learn, we continue, we smile and we give free love to everyone.”
Spanish entrant Barei was not so positive about voting for Russia and even stated that any LGBT fans of Eurovision shouldn’t vote for Russia in protest.
Fans are said to be concerned for Eurovision 2017, as Russia are currently the front-runners to win this year which would mean that Russia could end up hosting the show next year. Many members of the LGBT community are worried for their own safety should any of them travel to Russia to go to the show or any of the fan events that take place alongside it.
Hovi Star will perform his song “Made of Stars” during the second Semi Final on Thursday May 12th, to be broadcast on BBC Four in the UK.
The Grand Final will be broadcast Saturday May 14th on BBC One, with UK entrants Joe and Jake from The Voice UK taking part. The UK are considered outsiders to win the competition.