Monday, 16 May 2011

Eurovision 2012: When Borat Met Brüno

It was a novel and enjoyable experience for Fagburn on Saturday night, watching Eurovision while following the queeny running commentary on Twitter.
One of my favourite quips came just after it was announced that Azerbaijan had won;
"And they'll be dancing in the streets of ...checks Wikipedia ...Baku tonight!"
This was soon followed by several tweets wondering if Azerbaijan was down with or down on The Gays.
How will this Muslim ex-Soviet satellite cope with the International Festival of Gayness?
It could be like Brüno trying to bum Borat - messy.
Only The Times seems to have picked up on this possible problemette*; 'Gays fear prejudice if Azerbaijan hosts the next Eurovision contest'
"Azerbaijan’s dubious record on gay rights could make it an unsuitable host country for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, broadcasters and fans of the event fear.
"The Muslim nation’s victory on Saturday night entitles it to organise the competition in 2012 but widespread concern about potential intolerance was expressed at an after-show party.
“'So many Eurovision devotees are from the gay community — it’s known as the gay world cup,'” one broadcaster said. 'Azerbaijan could be far from welcoming and many fans may decide not to go. People at a high level are worried about this.'”
An anonymous source in the media told Fagburn; "If someone is quoted but not named in a slight story like this, the quote's probably been made up."
Helpfully, The Times couldn't find out.
After a quick Google the hack discovered; "Homosexual activity has been legal in Azerbaijan since 2001 but continues to be severely repressed, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association."
But someone from ILGA is quoted as saying; "Baku was probably the most tolerant city in the Caucasus, and Azerbaijan relatively secular for a Muslim state."
So in conclusion; no idea.
But remember Eurovision has already been hosted several times without too much to-do in countries where homosexuality actually was still illegal; West Germany (1957), England (1960, 1963), Austria (1967), Spain (1969), Scotland (1972), Israel (1979) and Ireland (1971, 1981, 1988).
Europa - nul points.

• Human Rights Watch on Azerbaijan's piss-poor human rights record.

* Update: In classic style Pink News realised there was a story here at 3.43pm, Pink Paper soon after.
Both essentially cut-and-pasted an email Peter Tatchell sent at 2.55pm.
There is no news, only press releases...

Update 2: The Daily Star regurgitated this story Tuesday - headline 'A Bum Note' (Sadly not used online).

1 comment:

  1. Yep - you're not the only one who's confused by all the half-truths flying about!! Actually thought Fraser Nelson in the Speccie (see: wrote quite a good piece - although again, while his analysis was sound, his facts on Azerbaijan were just plain wrong. There is the factual stuff, like people saying it's a Muslim country - as it happens it's not - it's constitutionally secular. Just lazy cut and paste journalism. And then all the conjecture about it being homophobic - which in my experience of Baku is really unfair. In fact of all the ex-Soviet states judged on so many counts, including tolerance of homosexuality, Azerbaijan is by FAR the most liberal. And on other social indicators too - it is a trail-blazer in the region. The UN says that it has ‘a positive track record’ of reforming its social protection system ‘to better provide relief to poor and vulnerable groups’. I think in many ways the really interesting thing is that Eurovision 2012 will put such a spotlight on Azerbaijan, so that finally we can have a proper debate about that part of the world that is so poorly understood here in the UK (and I suspect much of western Europe. It's a real opportunity to demystify some of the half-truths that are spouted out voraciously by some on the blogosphere about Azerbaijan. Let the debate begin!