LGBT visibility. Eurovision has had a long-held fan base in the LGBT community, and contest organisers have actively worked to include these fans in the event since the 1990s. Paul Oscar became the contest’s first openly gay artist to compete when he represented Iceland in 1997. Israel’s Dana International, the contest’s first trans performer, became the first LGBT artist to win in 1998. In 2021, Nikkie de Jager became the first trans person to host the contest.
Several open members of the LGBT community have since gone on to compete and win: Conchita Wurst, the drag persona of openly gay Thomas Neuwirth, won the 2014 contest for Austria; openly bisexual performer Duncan Laurence was the winner of the 2019 contest for the Netherlands; and rock band Måneskin, winners of the 2021 contest for Italy, features openly bisexual Victoria De Angelis as its bassist. Marija Šerifović, who won the 2007 contest for Serbia, subsequently came out publicly as a lesbian in 2013. Past competing songs and performances have included references and allusions to same-sex relationships; “Nous les amoureux”, the 1961 winning song, contained references to the difficulties faced by a homosexual relationship; Krista Siegfrids’ performance of “Marry Me” at the 2013 contest included a same-sex kiss with one of her female backing dancers; and the stage show of Ireland’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s “Together” in 2018 had two male dancers portraying a same-sex relationship. Drag performers, such as Ukraine’s Verka Serduchka, Denmark’s DQ and Slovenia’s Sestre, have appeared, including Wurst winning in 2014.
In recent years, various political ideologies across Europe have clashed in the Eurovision setting, particularly on LGBT rights. Dana International’s selection for the 1998 contest in Birmingham was marked by objections and death threats from orthodox religious sections of Israeli society, and at the contest her accommodation was reportedly in the only hotel in Birmingham with bulletproof windows. Turkey, once a regular participant and a one-time winner, first pulled out of the contest in 2013, citing dissatisfaction in the voting rules and more recently Turkish broadcaster TRT have cited LGBT performances as another reason for their continued boycott, refusing to broadcast the 2013 event over Finland’s same sex kiss. LGBT visibility in the contest has been cited as a deciding factor for Hungary’s non-participation since 2020, although no official reason was given by the Hungarian broadcaster MTVA. The rise of anti-LGBT sentiment in Europe has led to a marked increase in booing from contest audiences, particularly since the introduction of a “gay propaganda” law in Russia in 2013. Conchita Wurst’s win was met with criticism on the Russian political stage, with several conservative politicians voicing displeasure in the result. Clashes on LGBT visibility in the contest have occurred in countries which do not compete, such as in China, where broadcasting rights were terminated during the 2018 contest due to censorship of “abnormal sexual relationships and behaviours” that went against Chinese broadcasting guidelines.