Eurovision 2014: Conchita Wurst faces transphobic backlash for 'unnatural' lifestyle

Conchita Wurst will perform power ballad 'Rise Like a Phoenix' at the contest

Jess Denham
Thursday 01 May 2014 18:09
Conchita Wurst is Austria's entry for Eurovision 2014
Conchita Wurst is Austria's entry for Eurovision 2014

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.

Why is Eurovision so political?

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.

Russia has strict laws in place prohibiting "gay propaganda", which celebrities from Stephen Fry and Elton John to Ellie Goulding and Madonna have fiercely opposed.

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".

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

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."

Read more: What do we know about Molly Smitten-Downes?
Meet the Eurovision 2014 contestants
Everything you need to know about Eurovision 2014

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in