Though Conchita Wurst‘s domination of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest came as good news to many in her home country of Austria and across Western Europe, the east was less enthusiastic, including Russian officials who asked the culture ministry to ban the singer from touring Russia.
The 25-year-old Austrian drag performer, whose off-stage name is Thomas Neuwirth, took home the gold over the weekend with her Bond-like ballad Rise Like a Phoenix, but her message of unity and acceptance was not embraced by those like Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who tweeted, “Eurovision showed European integrators their Euro-prospect — a bearded girl.”
As Billboard reports, Vitaly Milonov, a conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg, meanwhile suggested that Russia no longer compete in Eurovision if they are to feature singers like Wurst. Milonov is notorious for penning the city’s “anti-gay propaganda” laws in 2012.
In addition to citing the laws as grounds to ban this year’s Eurovision broadcast, Milonov sent a letter to the Russian Eurovision organising committee requesting they boycott future contests, writing, “The participation of apparently transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst on the same stage as Russian artists live on TV is blatant propaganda of homosexuality and moral degradation.”
Milonov also requested Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky stop Wurst from performing in Russia saying that allowing her into the country “would be more than criminal negligence.” However the ministry responded by saying “banning bearded women or men” was outside their competence.
Wurst faced criticism and negativity throughout the competition, including from organisations based in Armenia and Belarus, but the singer had this to say to Russian President Vladimir Putin after winning: “I don’t know if he is watching this now, but if so, I’ll say it: ‘We’re unstoppable.'”
Watch: Conchita Wurst – Rise Like a Phoenix Live Eurovision Grand Final 2014
Watch: Conchita Wurst Celebrating 2014 Eurovision Song Contest Win