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Miss Universe pageant rejects call to move competition out of Russia

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
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NEW YORK — The Miss Universe pageant has responded to a Change.org petition calling for this year’s pageant to be moved from Russia because of that country’s recently enacted anti-gay “propaganda law.

Miss USA Olivia Culpo is the reigning Miss Universe, crowned in 2012.

The 2013 Miss Universe competition is scheduled to held on Nov. 9 at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia.

The organization said in a statement that, while the law violates the pageant’s core values, they hope the competition will foster a common understanding and appreciation of the rights of all individuals:

The Miss Universe Organization believes in equality for all individuals and is deeply concerned by the laws recently enacted in Russia and currently in place in several other countries.

Both the law, as well as the violence experienced by the LGBT community in Russia, are diametrically opposed to the core values of our company. Our organization has always embodied a spirit of inclusion and is a celebration of people from all countries and walks of life.

It is our hope this year’s Miss Universe contest in Moscow will help foster a common understanding and appreciation of the rights of all individuals, regardless of their nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation.

In our sixty year history we have witnessed, and been a party to, many social changes including those within the LGBT community. It has been our experience that the Miss Universe pageant provides a forum through which contestants from more than 90 countries, as well as their families and friends, forge bonds with citizens of a host country, helping to serve as a catalyst for social change.

The organization said that safety of its contestants, staff and crew was its primary concern and that it is working with our Russian hosts to ensure the security and well-being of those traveling to Russia for the pageant.

Last week, Bravo’s Andy Cohen said he had turned down an offer to host the pageant because he does not feel safe traveling to Russia.

Cohen, who has hosted the pageant for the past two years and is openly gay, said Russia’s “discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit.”

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