Spectators at this year’s Miss Universe pageant can watch what happens live at the competition – but for the first time in three years, they won’t see Bravo’s Andy Cohen.
Though Cohen co-hosted Miss Universe in 2011 and 2012, he’s bowing out this year because of the pageant’s filming location: Moscow. And as Cohen recently explained to his fellow Miss Universe host Giuliana Rancic, he “didn’t feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia.”
Why? Because last month, Russia instituted a controversial new law that bans the public discussion or display of gay rights and relationships “around minors,” effectively making outward demonstrations of homosexuality illegal. These “discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit,” Cohen continued. “The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested.”
Cohen isn’t the only celebrity speaking out against Russia’s anti-gay laws – or urging like-minded comrades to protest it. George Takei, Stephen Fry, Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and Harvey Fierstein have all criticized Russia; all but Black have also urged the Olympic Committee to either demand the retraction of these laws or to move the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia to another location.
Miss Universe has not yet announced who will replace Cohen at this year’s pageant.