The rules of the Eurovision Song Contest are strict: competitors must not promote a political message. But a subversive plea to legalise gay marriage, sung by a Finnish singer whose stage routine features passionate kissing with a female dancer, could sweep to victory at this month's competition.
Organisers forbid "lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature". The Finnish entry has snuck in under the radar, however.
"Marry Me", sung by Krista Siegfrids, is a thumping dance anthem that at first appears to be sung from the perspective of a girlfriend who will do anything to get a proposal from her man.
"Skipping dinner to get thinner/Where is my proposal?" she demands. "I know where the future's heading/ I can see my perfect wedding."
Yet Siegfrids, 27, says that Finland's entry is actually a protest against the Finnish parliament's decision to vote down gay marriage legislation last year. She hopes the song will capture votes from the gay community in the UK when the 2013 contest is held in Malmo, Sweden, in a fortnight.
"I don't think 'Marry Me' is political," said Siegfrids. "It's about love and tolerance. But gay marriage is not allowed in Finland and that's wrong. I wanted to make a statement about that."
Organisers have intervened previously, blocking Georgia's 2009 entry because of its thinly disguised references to the then Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, following an outbreak of hostilities between the two nations.
"Marry Me" is being used to boost a "citizens' initiative" in Finland. A petition has already been signed by 100,000 people, a sufficient number to ensure that the gay marriage bill will be re-presented to parliament.
The European Broadcasting Union may ban the controversial conclusion to Siegfrids's performance – a "gay kiss" with her female dance team – to appease broadcasters in Eastern Europe, where homophobia still thrives. The Russian parliament passed a bill outlawing "homosexual propaganda" in March.
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Siegfrids said: "Homophobic people are angry with me for doing this. But I'm planning a surprise at the end of my performance. It's live on TV, so nobody can stop me."
"Marry Me" could scupper the chances of the UK ending a dismal run of Eurovision form with "Believe in Me", performed by the veteran singer Bonnie Tyler.
Siegfrids said: "Since you can't vote for your own entry, I hope you will vote for Finland. I know the show is watched on huge screens in gay bars in Soho and I want to get everyone's support in Britain."
Benjamin Cohen, publisher of PinkNews, said: "Eurovision is often referred to as the 'gay world cup', thanks to its camp celebration of popular culture and the fact that so many gay people tune in. "So a song that appeals to gay voters is a particularly clever idea, especially given the Europe-wide debate on the introduction of same-sex marriage."
The contenders on 18 May include a French noir-rocker in praise of S&M, an Armenian power ballad written by the Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, and a Greek sea shanty called "Alcohol Is Free".
Winning message in the song
1967: Sandie Shaw, Puppet on a String
Shaw called it "sexist drivel" but the song clearly anticipated the Clegg/Cameron relationship: "Just who's pulling the strings?/ I'm all tied up to you/ But where's it leading me to?"
1969: Lulu, Boom Bang-a-Bang
Was this Lulu's secret Vietnam protest? During the 1991 Gulf War, BBC bosses blacklisted the song.
1975: Teach-In, Ding-a-Dong
Dutch nonsense verse invited us to "Try to sing a song that goes Ding-Ding-a-Dong". But not during the week of Margaret Thatcher's funeral.
1997: Katrina and the Waves, Love Shine a Light
The winner rocks the New Labour gospel: "Brothers and sisters in every little part/ Let our love shine a light in every corner of our hearts."
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