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25th Jun 2022

'Bearded lady' speaks out for gay rights in EU capital

  • Wurst won the 2014 Eurovision song contest (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)

A defiant Conchita Wurst on Wednesday (8 October) challenged homophobic politicians and governments opposed to same-sex marriage to overcome their fears.

The 2014 Eurovision contest winner, speaking to reporters at the European Parliament, said “the right to love who you want is such a human thing” and couldn’t understand “why there are still politicians out there who are so afraid” of same-sex marriages.

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Same sex marriages are recognised in England, Scotland, Wales, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark. Finland is debating a same-sex marriage law.

Wurst, also known as the "bearded lady", fielded questions from reporters on EU unity, UK moves to leave the Union, and violence against LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans] people in Brussels.

“For me, nobody can hurt me anymore because I exactly know who I am and I exactly know what I want, so, I totally get that is not the solution but maybe it is a part of the solution,” she said of the violence.

She has been the subject of attacks and ridicule in the past.

Her contest win in May sparked Russian protests, with the Orthodox Church describing the 25-year old as an “abomination” and saying that her victory was “one more step in the rejection of the Christian identity of European culture”.

President Vladimir Putin also lashed out saying she had no right to put her lifestyle on display.

The backlash wasn’t limited to Putin and his neo-conservative entourage.

On Wednesday, German MEP Beatrix von Storch, of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, draped a "La Manif Pour Tous" flag outside her parliament office window.

The flag is a reference to a French-led protest movement against same-sex marriages.

But speaking alongside Conchita Wurst, Austrian Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek brushed off the criticisms.

“I know that there have been some people criticising it [Wurst's visit] but that is part of democracy,” said Lunacek, who is vice-president of the EU assembly.

She noted that almost one in two LGBT people have felt discriminated against or harassed in the past year.

The MEP is pushing to get the European Commission to piece together a roadmap against homophobia.

The European Parliament, for its part, backed a resolution in 2012 to condemn homophobic laws and discrimination in Europe.

Lunacek hosted the event along with far-left Dutch MEP Dennis De Jong, Dutch liberal Sophie In't Veld, Finnish centre-right Sirpa Pietikainen, and Italian centre-left Daniele Viotti.

The concert cost around €18,000. Lunacek said most of the expense was covered by herself and the Greens.

Wurst was not paid for her performance and flew economy class to and from Brussels.

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Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel put himself in the history books on Friday by becoming the first EU government leader to marry someone of the same sex.

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Romania isn't the only country portraying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a threat to children. From Poland and Hungary in EU, to reactionary movements around the world are prohibiting portrayals of LGBT people and families in schools.

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