First, neighboring Armenia boycotted the contest because of a dispute over Nagorno Karabakh, the ethnic Armenian separatist enclave in Azerbaijan. Then, international human-rights groups began protesting the Azeri government’s record of suppressing free speech and repressing political opposition. Then, ultra-nationalistic, homophobic groups inside Azerbaijan launched cyber-attacks that crashed Eurovision’s websites. The groups claim the glitzy, campy pop music contest is a glorified “gay pride” parade that will sully the nation’s reputation. Then, neighboring Iran withdrew its ambassador, in part because of the gay pride claim and partly because its arch-foe, Israel, competes in the event.
Hopefully, tomorrow’s performances will be spellbinding enough to eclipse the negative spotlight generated by those exploiting Eurovision for their own political purposes.
--Brian Beary, Contributing Writer, CQ Global Researcher