NEW YORK — Andy Cohen, an Executive Vice President at the Bravo channel and host of “Watch What Happens Live,” says he is passing on hosting the 2013 Miss Universe pageant because he does not feel safe traveling to Russia.
The competition, which Cohen has hosted the past two years, will be held on Nov. 9 at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia.Cohen, who is openly gay, said he turned down the offer to host the event because of Russia’s “discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit,”reported E! News.
“The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested,” he told Rancic, adding that he “didn’t feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia.”
Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, signed by President Vladimir Putin on June 29, prohibits anyone from distributing information with the “intention” of persuading minors that nontraditional sexual relationships are “attractive” or “interesting,” or even “socially equivalent to traditional relationships.”
The law has sparked growing international concern, focused in particular around the safety of athletes and spectators planning to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.Similar to efforts to boycott or relocate the Olympics, a petition has been launched to urge the Miss Universe organization to move the competition out of Russia, “where LGBTQ people are under attack.”
This is the first time Russia will be hosting the Miss Universe pageant.