Iran Blasts Eurovision Song Contest As “Gay Parade,” Withdraws Ambassadors From Baku

The Eurovision Song Contest is a silly pop-music affair that has brought the world ABBA and Bucks Fizz. But now the competition has sparked an international incident as Iran has lashed out at Azerbaijan for hosting what clerics are calling a gay Pride parade.

Tensions have been mounting between the neighboring countries, as fundamentalists in Iran have long been critical of secular (and U.S.-friendly) Azerbaijan. Now Iran as has officially withdrawn its ambassadors from the capital city of Baku.

Azerbaijan’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest—a flamboyant annual pageant of pop music from around Europe —has been condemned by some Iranian clerics and lawmakers who have referred to a “gay parade”—although no such event is planned.

A senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Sobhani, issued a statement urging Muslims in the region to protest what he described as anti-Islamic behaviour by Azerbaijan’s government.

“We heard that the government of Azerbaijan is hosting the international Eurovision Song Contest and that during this contest there will also be a gay parade,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted the cleric as saying.

Iran was angered by subsequent anti-Iranian protests in the Azerbaijan capital Baku, where demonstrators carried pictures of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and banners that read “Azerbaijan does not need clerics-homosexuals!”

According to Reuters, a local campaign has begun to stop the event: Flyers and videotapes decry the contest the persecution of religious Muslims in Azerbaijan. Last week hackers attacked the Eurovision website, posting messages demanding Azerbaijan “stop carrying out Eurovision 2012 in Baku and not allow gay parades.”

Seriously, where are all these gay parades—and why weren’t we invited?

As is tradition with the 56-year-old Eurovision Contest, Azerbaijan won the right to host the contest after Azerbaijani pop duo Ell and Nikki’s “Running Scared” took the prize in 2011. The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is being held Saturday in Baku, with millions expected to tune in around the world to watch.


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  • Triple S

    Eurovision has always been great fun. Very good performances to go ’round. But I swear; Finland’s one last year was nauseating :P Iran just needs to get over themselves; the world does not revolve around them (but they still think that).

  • Larkin

    I’m rooting for Jedward!

    I’m Jedicated!

  • Kirk

    Do countries like Iran that allow idiotic clerics to rule national thought realize the rest of the world just laughs at their demands and rants? They are simply irrelevant!

  • jason

    The Eurovision Awards are crap. Auto Tune is rampant. It’s an event for la de da’s who like to jump up and down and mouth lyrics to silly songs through thick lisps while clenching their butt cheeks.

  • MikeE

    @Kirk: Sort of like the Republican party?

    I’m always amused to read Republicans and right-wing Christians go on about the heathens and the muslims, and yet, in reality, they are trying to establish exactly the same type of fascist theocracy in the US.

  • Frank

    I thought this piece was about Benny coming out…..when I was a kid I had a massive crush on Benny…he looked like my teddy bear

  • Well

    @MikeE, you took the words right out of my mouth. Iran’s treatment of gays is horrific (similar to that of the U.S.’s “friend” Saudi Arabia, by the way), but as for his item, much more outrageous things have been said here in the U.S. by right wing and religious nutjobs lately, as a glance at the Queerty news page confirms.

  • Well

    Agnetha was the only woman I would ever have gone straight for ;)

  • Hephaestion

    100% of Iran’s mullahs are closeted gay men. Everyone with open eyes knows this. It’s exactly like the Vatican.

  • Belize

    @MikeE: Oh. Preach, love! :)

  • Danny

    Anyone knows that if you aren’t holding a gay parade, then you hold a different protest – select any basic activity, like walking down the street all wearing the same color of shirt in different shades and clapping hands every so often, then if police try to arrest you it looks like they are trying to arrest walkers in the city which makes them appear foolish and stupid – embarrassing them and undermining their authority. It is carrying out a chaotic protest in other words – planned but not overly planned so it foils attempts by authoritarian regimes to prevent protests by showing how corrupt they are. Or have everyone at a certain time, say 10 AM, go outside or wherever they are and scream words like “Freedom” ten times and then go about their business. People forget that the GLBTA community vastly outnumbers any police or military on the planet. Politicians and clerics who violate human rights are small in numbers compared to the people they have harmed. Never forget that.

  • fagburn

    Do countries like the US that allow idiotic clerics rule national thought realise the rest of the world just laughs at their demands and rants?

  • Mike

    The odds-on favorite to win on Saturday, Loreen (a Moroccan Berber/Swede), has spoken out against the Azeri government and met with human rights activists. I can only imagine what holy hell of a PR nightmare it will be for Azerbaijan’s ruling family if she wins, because she has proven she isn’t afraid of standing up for the more downtrodden there.

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