The following is an action from Equality Matters, a project of Media Matters for America.
NBC Universal co-owns the Miss Universe pageant. On June 18, it was announced that the 2013 competition would be held in November in Moscow, Russia. The announcement came just one week after Russia's legislature unanimously adopted an extreme new law banning "gay propaganda" in order to crack down on its LGBT community.
Under the new rules, anyone who is caught showing support for the gay community or LGBT equality can face fines or jail time for promoting gay "propaganda" to minors. Similar laws have already been used to justify violent crackdowns against LGBT people throughout parts of the country, and human rights groups have stated that the measure is in clear violation of international law.
Andy Cohen, the openly gay NBC employee/Bravo star, has hosted the Miss Universe pageant for the past two years, but recently backed out of the 2013 event, citing concerns for his own safety and that of participants and spectators. Even NBC’s own employees recognize the problem with hosting an event like this in Russia in light of this new law.
Just last year, the Miss Universe pageant changed its rules to allow transgender contestants to compete. The decision to host the pageant in Moscow this year is a giant step backward.