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Sunday, 11 May 2014

On Conchita Wurst

First of all, banish the idea that whoever wins Eurovision has anything to do with the quality of the songs. Ok, no, that's harsh - let's say the quality of the music makes up, say, 20% of the decision on who wins.

The rest is politics. Which is why it was laughable that Eurovision Host Pilou Asbaek was banned from wearing rainbows as he wanted because it was deemed “political.” Which country votes for which is always based on relations and opinions between those countries (which is why you have a lot of bloc voting and part of the reason Britain both doesn’t take it very seriously and always does poorly – because we’ve annoyed and continue to annoy a lot of people).

Homophobia has been an issue in European politics lately – obviously with the looming bigotry of Russia. But not just Russia – it was rather bitter, for example, to see political leaders decide boycotts, sanctions and even not attending the Olympics et al against Russia for persecuting LGBT people was a no-no, but when straight people in Ukraine were the target, suddenly everything was on the table (including our “equality minister” telling us how much she couldn’t possibly boycott the Olympics – then running like hell from the Paralympics – showing homophobia and ableism). It’s also galling that one of the many steps towards integration with the EU required Ukraine to improve it’s anti-homophobia protection and this was dropped after the Russian invasion (and Ukraine dropped anti-gay discrimination from their workplace discrimination law) feeling a lot like the EU just shoved LGBT people under the bus.

Then there was Conchita’s boycott – Russia, Ukraine and Belarus all wanted Conchita disqualified and/or broadcasts of Eurovision to edit Conchita out. They were hardly alone, though the usual suspects were most vocal. There was a lot of pressure to remove Conchita entirely

And then Conchita won. That’s a message. Ok, the message could be “You want to de-gay Eurovision? Are you SERIOUS? Please, we’ve been claiming this since the 70s.” But it’s also a strong sense of rejection of the very overt bigotry that has dogged Eurovision and Europe this year.

Is the song good? Yes/no/maybe/I don’t really care – but I’m loving that the bigots stomped their feet and here, far more of us turned round and told them to back off.