Bravo mastermind and Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen won't be returning to his gig as a cohost of the 2013 Miss Universe competition, set to be held in Moscow on Nov. 9. He told E! News' Giuliana Rancic that he refused the gig due to Russia's "discriminatory policies [that] make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit." He continued, "The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested," and "didn't feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia."
This is the first time Russia is playing host to the Miss Universe pageant. A Change.org petition was launched to encourage the Miss Universe organization to move the event to another country. From the petition author:
"Many Miss Universe fans, myself included, identify as LGBTQ -- and surely many employees of the organization are, as well. How are any of these people, who might want or will have to attend the event, supposed to travel to Russia under these new laws and feel safe, when they could (and likely will) be beaten, arrested and/or detained on the spot for being who they are? Clearly, there is more at stake here than the organization's reputation."
The petition already has over 24,000 signatures.
In recent months, the discriminatory laws allowing the arrest and detainment of all persons suspected of being homosexual or of pushing a pro-LGBTQ agenda have drawn widespread criticism and calls for other international events to relocate, most notably the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.