Eurovision 2014: Conchita Wurst faces transphobic backlash for 'unnatural' lifestyle
Conchita Wurst will perform power ballad 'Rise Like a Phoenix' at the contest
Austria's Eurovision entry Conchita Wurst is facing a transphobic backlash online, with one petition calling the contest a "hotbed of sodomy".
The bearded drag artist, real name Tom Neuwirth, is preparing to take to the stage in Copenhagen next month with power ballad "Rise Like A Phoenix".
Scroll to watch the video
But conservative protesters in Russia, Armenia and Belarus are battling to see Wurst's performance banned.
Reuters reports that a 2013 Russian petition signed by more than 15,000 people requested the state broadcaster to remove Eurovision from its TV schedule.
"Austria will be represented in Eurovision 2014 by the transvestite contestant Conchita Wurst, who leads the lifestyle inapplicable for Russians [sic]," the All-Russian Parent Meeting petition read.
"The popular international competition that our children will be watching has become a hotbed of sodomy at the initiation of the European liberals.
"Russia is one of the only European countries that has managed to maintain normal and healthy family values based on love and mutual support between men and women."
Belarus' petition was similarly worded.
Armenian favourite Aram MP3 has joined the anti-trans voices, claiming that his competitor's lifestyle is "not natural" and that Wurst should "eventually decide whether she is a woman or a man".
Wurst responded: "The beard is a statement to say that you can achieve anything, no matter who you are or how you look. If you have problems understanding that, then I would be happy to sit down with you and explain it to you in more detail."
Aram MP3 later apologised and insisted that his insensitive words were "a joke".
Wurst's debut Eurovision appearance will be at the second semi-final on 8 May before the grand final two days later, if successful.
Despite the recent outrage, transgender Israeli singer Dana International won in 1998 with "Diva". Then, last year, Finnish contestant Kristia Siegfrids kissed one of her female dancers during "Marry Me" in protest at her country's ban on gay marriage.
Bookmakers have placed Wurst in their top 10 contenders lists, making the 25-year-old one of the favourites.
"My stance is that I fight for something positive rather than against something negative," Wurst told Radio Free Europe. "I was always an outsider and I was confronted with discrimination. I don't want this to happen to the next generation."
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
Top 20 films that make you feel good
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
19 British bands signed to indie labels are getting government grants to help them make it big abroad
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
What if Nicolas Cage played every character in Game of Thrones?
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll