Andy Cohen boycotts Miss Universe pageant following Russia’s anti-gay laws

By now, I think everyone has heard about Russia’s new anti-gay legislation. A few weeks ago, Pres. Putin signed new “anti-gay” laws that are a patchwork of human rights shenanigans. I’m not trying to downplay it at all – gay Russians have been targeted in really awful, violent ways – but the language of “gay propaganda” and “fines” for openly gay people seems ridiculous and idiotic. What’s worse is that Russia’s Interior Minister has said that the anti-gay laws will be enforced during the Sochi Olympics next year. You can read more about it here.

Human rights advocates from around the world are openly questioning whether the International Olympic Committee should withdraw Russia’s Olympic bid and hand the 2014 Winter Olympics back over to Canada. There’s even a petition about it, although Vancouver politicians aren’t really jazzed about the idea of hosting the Olympics again. No country has come out and declared that they will boycott the Sochi Olympics, but there are a lot of LBGT advocates and allies who are talking about personally boycotting. And now Andy Cohen has joined their ranks – sort of. He was scheduled to co-host the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, but he turned it down:

Andy Cohen says he is boycotting the Miss Universe Pageant in Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s implementation of harsh anti-gay laws. The openly gay Bravo executive told E! News that he turned down the job as host of the event on Nov. 9 in Moscow.

He told Giuliana Rancic, his co-host of the pageant for the past two years, that “their discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit.”

The “Watch What Happens Live” host added, “The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested. I didn’t feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia.”

The Russian legislation threatens prosecution for discussing or supporting gay rights with parades or public events. While a source told us that Miss Universe organizers are yet to decide on a host for the upcoming show, pageant owner Donald Trump told us, “So many people want to host the Miss Universe Pageant. We haven’t asked Andy Cohen to host the pageant in Russia, but I can understand his feelings on the matter. It is my hope that the Miss Universe Pageant will help foster common understanding and appreciation of the rights of all individuals.”

[From Page Six]

I have mixed feelings about a boycott for this and for the Olympics. For one, what would a potential boycott really achieve? What would the endgame really be? Wouldn’t it be more powerful for the LBGT community and the LBGT allies to come out (so to speak) in full force? Wouldn’t it be great if every Western or pro-human rights country wore the pink triangle on their Olympic gear? How would that be for gay propaganda? As for Cohen’s personal boycott… I respect his decision. He wouldn’t be going there in the midst of the Olympics with the whole world watching. There is a very real possibility that an openly gay American like Cohen would be targeted and they could make an example out of him.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

85 Responses to “Andy Cohen boycotts Miss Universe pageant following Russia’s anti-gay laws”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Mandy says:

    Gosh, I love that gay man so much. And no, I don’t blame him for boycotting the pageant.

  2. Marianne says:

    What would having all the athletes wear a pink triangle do?? Absolutely nothing except maybe get them attacked.

    I don’t think its fair to the athletes just to pull them out of the Olympics when they have been working so hard and yet, if everyone came together and stopped supporting Russia in any means possible, I think eventually that country would start hurting. Because the country wouldn’t have any allies, and also if they don’t have anyone traveling there, the tourism economy will start to flail as well.

    I think it would be best if another country stepped up and said “We’ll host the Olympics instead” however that’s a lot of work to do, with not a lot of time. I can understand why no one has exactly jumped up yet.

    Anyway, good on Andy Cohen!!

    • Jalene says:

      Heres the thing though: the Olympic community comprises of the entire world. The entire world IS NOT agreed on the issue of homosexuality. Over 80 percent of the member states either have laws criminalising homosexuality or not recognising homosexual couples.

      So if you took a worldwide poll on this issue, you would lose by a massive margin. Even in the West, you would find significant numbers who agree with Russia. So odds are if you tried to move the Russian Olympics you would just split the Olympic Federation. And it wouldnt even be a split down the middle. It would be N America, parts of Europe and afew others on one side and everybody else on the other.

      Even worse you trigger fears of imperialism. People generally dont want to be preached at or pushed to take a different position. Especially when so many in the world tie those positions to either their culture or their faith. All you accomplish with boycotts or shifting games is to entrench anti gay views.

      People need to be strategic with this. Otherwise you end up destroying Olympic Federation rather than reforming it.

      • Sixer says:

        But, regardless of the member states, the IOC signs up to the Declaration of Human Rights. It would not, for example, give the Games to Nigeria, for this reason. The problem here, that’s leading to boycott calls, is that Russia has ramped up the anti-gay legislation and rhetoric SINCE it won the Games.

        It’s a big problem for everyone. And I wouldn’t usually be in favour of boycotts and/or sanctions, as they affect normal people not decision makers.

      • Jalene says:

        True. However, interprating the UNDHR to include orientation is a fairly recent thing, much like interprating the US Constitution to cover black people (that bit about all men being equal) or even women came over two centuries later. Full disclosure, I am not America.

        Even having said that you would have a hard time showing that Russian legislation violates the UNDHR. Aaand let me remind you that there are still American States that still have anti-sodomy laws on their books. They may be dead law as in never implemented but those provisions still exist.

        I hope its clear that I am sympathetic over the gay issue. But I also live in a country where opinions are shifting because of dialogue but everytime some bumbling Western diplomat opens his trap, people recoil and we go backwards. It can feel like a smug superior douche whos own country is still in transition on this matter has come to preach to the “dumb yellow, brown, black, Eastern European” people.

      • Sixer says:

        I hear you. (I’m British).

      • Yep says:


        So what, because parts of the US have those laws, I can’t individually find the situation in Russia outrageous? It’s not like I agree with the states that have those laws either.

      • AnnE says:

        Well said! Power of the pocket book – let the athlete’s have their games, they have earned it. It is TOURISTS who should boycott not only during these games but also before and after. Countries host sporting events in order to promote their country for monetary reasons.

      • Bijlee says:

        “But I also live in a country where opinions are shifting because of dialogue but everytime some bumbling Western diplomat opens his trap, people recoil and we go backwards. It can feel like a smug superior douche whos own country is still in transition on this matter has come to preach to the “dumb yellow, brown, black, Eastern European” people.”

        @Jalene You know actually that is so freaking true. You’ve been able to put into words some of the frustration I feel about people who cast aspersions on a whole people. I know the “west” is progressive on human rights issues and everything else. And I absolutely want the world to reach that level of open-mindedness and acceptance for minorities from all walks of life. But that didn’t happen overnight even here. It was an evolution. Yes, it means a long and hard fight for minority rights, but that’s what it takes. that’s what it took a lot of people to even reach it here in “the west”.

        Not a bunch of people screaming on the internet about how barbaric such and such people are and then decrying them their culture and everything that defines them. That only repeats history and encourages the racism, xenophobia, and irrationality by even the most rational people we see all the time. It takes economic growth, education, dialogue, political reform etc etc etc to get to where we want to. This isn’t in direct reference to this situation but just a general rant on things I see all the time.

        And I agree tourists should boycott the games, not the athletes. That does seem the better route to go.

      • Cait says:

        @ Yep:

        It’s still a thing here in Louisiana, where I live. Despite the Supreme Court trying to effectively make sodomy laws a moot issue, Baton Rouge is actively targeting gay men for arrest:

      • m says:


        Your points are very well written. Thanks for explaining why the IOC won’t take a stand. I was wondering.

  3. Sixer says:

    It’s all very worrying. Yelena Isinbayeva’s remarks about the Swedes and their rainbows were horrible and incendiary. And SHE’S the Russian darling athlete.

    I am not one for boycotts. But I appreciate anyone and everyone who speaks up.

    • Sixer says:

      Thanks, Erinn. I should think so, too. But um… for me, she said what she said. I don’t think language obscured the tone, although it may have the detail. No amount of damage control can unsay it.

    • Jalene says:

      What Yelena said was unacceptable.

      However this is what happens when people make what really amounts to a political statement at the Games. I say political because what the Swedes did was intended to be a statement against the host country. Its triggered a burst of nationalist sentiment in Russia. Why? Because nobody wants their country insulted especially not at such an event. So you now have young urban kids posting on social media in support of Yelena when they would ordinarily have reacted differently.

      The reality is that these athletes get to go home to Sweden after this. But the nationalist sentiments they caused, the anti-gay sentiments that they have brought to the surface………they dont take these things back with them. All that anger will be poured out in Russia on gay Russians.

      So the Swedes get to pat themselves on the back for being “brave” but the consequences are felt by those left behind. Its self serving and dangerous. So thats why I am mad at those two Swedes. You have to be smart people.

      • Lee says:

        I understand what you are saying, but the climate for gay Russians right now is ALREADY so dangerous. Young kids were ALREADY posting on social media in support of the neo-nazi groups that are entrapping and abusing gay men and posting photos of it online. Police were ALREADY openly attacking peaceful gatherings celebrating gay pride. I think that what you are saying is partially true, for some people it will only fan the flames of hatred, but for some LGBT people, it may also provide a tiny bit of hope that SOMEONE out there supports them. I think it’s a very complicated issue and I definitely appreciate the points you are bringing up, but I think there is still another side to that coin.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        “The reality is that these athletes get to go home to Sweden after this. ”

        …If they are lucky. The Russian law says that foreigners who break this law can be imprisoned and deported.

        Additionally, they weren’t even sporting a true rainbow of colors. It was just red, blue and yellow. Considering the official Olympic symbol features rings in red, yellow, blue, green and black the reaction to the finger nails creates a problem of consistency.

        If Russia is treating “multi-color” to be gay propaganda, are they going to ban the offical Olymic symbol as well? What about colorful performance uniforms?

        Additionally, I question the idea that the actions of the Swedes brought anti-gay sentiments to the surface. I would say based on the law, those sentiments already existed.

    • Sixer says:

      Thank you for that, Jalene. You have given me pause for thought.

  4. doofus says:

    “For one, what would a potential boycott really achieve?”

    well, maybe, if a LOT of countries boycotted, it could be a HUGE financial hit for them.

    but I also have mixed feelings. I’d love to see the US and others say “buhbye” but I also would love it if people, gays and heteros alike, wore pink triangles and rainbows all throughout the duration of the games.

    • LAK says:

      However, will a boycott be effective? It doesn’t appear to have made any difference to the 1980/1984 summer games when USA/USSR boycotted due to being locked in a coldwar. And those Olympics were pretty successful (as an outsider looking in).

      • doofus says:

        in those years, was it just a one-country boycott?

        I’m talking on a massive scale…doubt it could happen, but that’s the kind of thing I mean.

      • LAK says:

        Given the world was split between the two superpowers, it was a major thing that they boycotted. Each country’s contribution to the Olympics is always significant for all the ‘global village’ rhetoric.

        Ps:- USSR split into more than 10 countries after the end of the cold war, so their boycott in terms of competing athletes was significant.

  5. wonderwoman21 says:

    I’ve boycotted the Miss Universe pageant since…well, forever since it’s a dehumanizig dog show for women to be put on display and judged.

  6. T.Fanty says:


    The IOC has publicly announced that they will punish athletes for making a political point at the Olympics. At this point, boycotting is the only solution.

  7. LAK says:

    I stand with Andy Cohen for those who highlight these laws.

    However, I wonder why Americans aren’t up in arms about AMERICAN Christian Evangelicals SPONSORING similar laws in Africa, in most cases supporting capital punishment ie death Penalty.

    There is a documentary out called GOD LOVES UGANDA which highlights the issue.

  8. bettyrose says:

    Dont boycott the pageant because it demeans women, though.

    • Tapioca says:

      …all of whom are there through CHOICE. You can’t choose your sexuality.

      • bettyrose says:

        I don’t choose to be there but I’m still impacted by a culture that values women for their sexuality over their intellect. I am also part of the LGBT community, but Im not going to praise someone who never had a problem with this misogynist event before.

      • Tapioca says:


        But the culture existed long before Miss Universe and it’ll exist long after it’s gone, whilst no-one’s being publically executed in Iran or Sudan for “not being pretty enough”.

        You have to pick your battles and a beauty pageant few watch and no-one knows the winner of is insignificant compared to state-sanctioned homophobia.

      • bettyrose says:

        Tapioca – If one is truly an advocate for gender and sexuality rights, then they are consistent in their message. If I point out that more than 1/2 of the LGBT community also identifies as female will you recognize that the goals of our movements are one and the same? I assure you, as well, that there is plenty of state sanctioned discrimination against women on the basis of their marriageability.

      • *unf* Joan Jett says:

        “I’m not going to praise someone who never had a problem with this misogynist event before”


        How is homophobia not okay in his book but misogyny is just fine? Oh, right, only one of those affects him personally…

    • LAK says:

      Our poor feminist ancestors who had managed to have this show stopped, only to be trumped (ha!) by money and corporations.

  9. Tapioca says:

    You’ve got to love the “gay propanda” label, as if any straight woman or man could ever be convinced to switch their sexuality because they were handed a leaflet!

    It’s worth pointing out that even history’s favourite bad guy the Nazis managed to make it so that during their Olympics in 1936 homosexual athletes would not be subject to the country’s strict anti-gay laws. Indeed Jesse Owens said that, as a black man, he felt he was treated more equally in Nazi Germany than he was back home in the US!

    @blue marie:
    You can BE gay, you just can’t PROMOTE homosexuality, whatever that means. They were complaining about a Swedish high-jumper with rainbow nail polish!

    • Anna says:

      There’s a school of thought in Russia that children exposed to ‘gay is ok’ speech, culture, etc will be more likely to turn out gay. That’s where the propaganda bit comes from – it’s not aimed at changing or not changing the minds of adults, but yungn’s.

      • *unf* Joan Jett says:

        Real question though: Why is it wrong “to turn out gay”?

        And from a prospective of a queer person (who was born and used to live in Russia btw.):

        The problem for queer kids is not to be gay, bisexual, and trans*. The problem is being in the closet about it – which comes with feelings of isolation, guilt, shame, depression, and suicide attempts. Consequently Russia’s new law makes the situation for queer kids much, much worse by banning LGBT organizations and adults to even talk about anything gay.

        Once a mindset of “gay not okay” is established in the mainstream society, lives of queer people would continue to be difficult – it would become even more likely for them to loose their homes, to be unemployed and/or engage in criminal activities, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to not know how to have safer sex (because condoms is not all there is to know about!), to be more vulnerable to violence, etc.

  10. blue marie says:

    so, wait.. I need clarification please. will the visiting gays from other countries be prosecuted as well? I’m not fully understanding.

    • Sixer says:

      Any visitor could be prosecuted if they broke the anti-gay laws – ie was found in flagrante, or whatever.

      But the boycott is suggested to protest the laws in general, not to safeguard gay athletes. Is a country with such laws suitable for these games? The games were assigned to Russia BEFORE these laws were enacted. They probably wouldn’t be for a bidding process now. That’s the problem.

  11. RHONYC says:

    he is such a babe! how i do love his ‘Andysmirk’. *swoon*

  12. Jayna says:

    I adore Andy Cohen. I want to be his friend and hang, and I never want to be any celeb’s friend.

  13. Jade says:

    Love Andy Cohen and good for him! If I were a gay man/woman, I wouldn’t feel safe going to Russia either! Glad he did what was right for him!

    PS — His show with Oprah last night was fantastic! Big hugs to Andy!

  14. Merritt says:

    The IOC is completely burying its head over the games. It is pretty clear that Russia is hoping for a Munich situation in Sochi. They want an attack by the Chechens.

    And now the potential targeting of gay athletes. I fear for any athletes from other countries. And for some sports there are international competitions scheduled in Russia this fall. Figure skating’s Rostelcom Cup is in November this year.

  15. Jacqueline says:

    What’s with Trump shading him? Saying they hadn’t asked him to host?

    Did anyone see The Oprah-calypse last night?

  16. Aud says:

    The IOC has sold out to Russian billionaires. These laws go against the spirit of the Olympic Games.
    That, and Yelena is a backward bimbo-tic throwback to the dark ages.
    I had to laugh when she said that they were ‘normal’ people…Sorry Yelena, but normal people don’t target people because of their sexual orientation.

    • badrockandroll says:

      Aud: You have to be careful with language. Other than some really crude insults that are curse words, russian doesn’t really have words for “gay”. The words that are useable in society translate as “normal” (for hetero) and “deviant” (for homosexual). Terribly pejorative, even when not translated, but demonstrate that Russia didn’t even need this new law to be an insular, xenophobic and homophobic state.

      • *unf* Joan Jett says:

        What? Of cause there are words for “gay” in Russia!

        You can use the English words with no difficulties: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans*. They are all very common in Russia. “гомосексуальный” literally means “homosexual”, not “deviant”. And – the cherry on top – you can casually and playfully call gay folks either “blue” (голубой) or “pink” (розовая) to refer to gay men or lesbians.

        Jesus, what is wrong with this thread?! Are all Americans out to save and civilize barbarian Eastern Europeans with the help of the Internet?

    • *unf* Joan Jett says:

      Yes, it is the “normal” people who target and oppress queer people based on their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity. And it happens in many, many countries, not just Russia – systematically and institutionally.

    • Carolyn says:

      was wondering why the Games are being held in Russia. Of course, the corrupt ogliarches & lesser billionaires.

      Who cares about athlete, official & visitor safety when the IOC strikes up a $$$ deal?

  17. Whoop says:

    Basically, they don’t want people looking and acting like Bobby Trendy.

  18. Adrien says:

    Miss Universe, like the Oscars red carpet, is a gay-holiday (or gay Superbowl) to most Latin American countries, the Philippines and Thailand. The gays won’t report to work on the coronation day. I hope the organizers (Trump) change the venue of the pageant.

  19. Pinky says:

    And people are trying to praise Russia for harboring a fugitive/traitor from the U.S. Wise.

  20. Bijlee says:

    Well good for Andy. I’m not really sure how we would proceed at this point. I think boycotting may do good or may do nothing. But most of the western countries tend to be for gay rights and they tend to be wealthier than countries not for gay rights so I feel like it would impact the games and would be a proper response. But I have no idea. I won’t watch them either way.

  21. terrah. says:

    what i really like about this site is in and about the entertaining celeb fliff flaff of brange/kirsten and cumber bunce, are thoughtful people putting forward informed, thought-provoking, and humane opinions about things that actually matter. i really valued the discourse about miley/appropriation of black culture yesterday as it made me long as people with good brains and good hearts keep posting, i will keep reading.

    • *unf* Joan Jett says:

      I would agree but I am way to alienated by this masterpiece:

      “What’s worse is that Russia’s Interior Minister has said that the anti-gay laws will be enforced during the Sochi Olympics next year.”

      - Yeah. Right. That is the worst part of it. Not the people who are actually affected by the laws, like … uhm … the millions of queer people living in Russia. Nope. It’s the Americans who can not enjoy Olympia without thinking about oppression. Why can’t they have nice things for once?

  22. Garvels says:

    Russia is not the only country with these laws. Qatar will be hosting the world soccer event in 2021 and their laws with respect to gays are more severe.

    The US supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and throughout the Midfle East. The brotherhood was rewriting the Egyptian constitution to make it a Sharia based constitution with laws severely impacting LGBT rights and women’s rights. This is why millions of people recently revolted.

    If people are going to speak out against Russia and their laws prohibiting gays then they lo need to be just as vocal about the Middle Eastern countries who oppress women and punish gays by prison and sometimes death.

    • *unf* Joan Jett says:

      Or the 13 American states, that still have anti-sodomy laws. Maybe?

      Or the many, many European countries, that require a forced sterilization from trans* people before they are given access to medical/legal changes of their bodies/gender.

      But yeah, it’s always easier to point at a country far, far away.

  23. Emily C. says:

    Boycotts have achieved tons of things in the past. I get very annoyed by people saying boycotts don’t do anything. I have no idea where they’re getting this from. It is simply not true.

    • *unf* Joan Jett says:

      Wearing rainbow pins and whatnot is all fine and good, but what would really help are better immigration laws in western countries! It is incredibly, incredibly hard for LGBT people to apply for immigration based on their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity. Most officials refuse to believe, that people really are LGB and/or trans*. They send almost everybody back to their countries, even if those countries have death penalties on homosexuality or transgenderism, and advise them “to live discrete”.
      Basically, pins are just cheap lip service, they would not change a thing. Changing the own law situation however…

  24. Lark says:

    The laws there are horrific. I understand and support Andy boycotting the pageant.

  25. Jayna says:

    Andy is such a great guy and so positive. He and Natasha Richardson were best buddies and they worked together for amfAR events. Please read his tribute to his friend, Natasha Richardson, after she died. So beautiful. It says a lot about him and the love and devotion he has for his friends and they him. He reposted this on the one-year anniversary of her death saying how much he missed her.

  26. dana says:

    It seems like I’m the only person who can’t stand Andy Cohen.

    I’m a major Bravo fan- I love Top Chef, Project Runway, etc… So, the after show interview, Watch what happens live, should be in my wheelhouse.

    But, I couldn’t stand Cohen’s mugging- its all about him, not the guest he’s supposed to be interviewing.

    If he wasn’t an executive at Bravo who anointed himself the talk show host, do you seriously think he would have been given that job?

    • Jayna says:

      I wouldn’t watch that show if he wasn’t the hos,t and it wouldn’t have the ratings it does if he wasn’t the host. His love of pop culture shows, and he has a true love of it and a fan of his guests who are from many old TV shows or pop acts. He isn’t just doing lip service. He is a fan of these pop acts and knows their music and/or TV stars from their earlier shows.

      He is a New Yorker through and through, and who else on a little, tiny talk show on Bravo on a tiny set, competing with other shows is going to get Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Cher, Meryl Streep, on and on? Andy, that’s who, because he’s friends with these people or friends with friends of these people who recommend his show. And his affection for and familiarity with his Bravo stars works effectively for interviews.

  27. fallen says:

    I would love to have the Olympics in Vancouver again, it was such a great time to be in the city!
    I don’t know what to make of the new laws in Russia, was there previous laws regarding gay people in Russia?

  28. TheTruthHurts says:

    Hold up, why the hell isn’t Trump pulling the Miss Universe pageant from Russia? That should be the real issue.

  29. Tiffany :) says:

    “Wouldn’t it be great if every Western or pro-human rights country wore the pink triangle on their Olympic gear?”

    I think they would be arrested, imprisoned, deported and fined!

    They are already getting on Swedish high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro for wearing red, yellow and blue nail polish at the World Athletic Championship, claiming it was an attempt at a rainbow. Because she isn’t Russian, her punishment could be imprisonment(!!!!) or a fine.

  30. Aunt Bea says:

    Those Ruskies will rue the day they EVA got sideways with Miss Andy! That’s right! Hit ‘em where it hurts.

    Also, in response to TheTruthHurts’ Q as to why Trump doesn’t pull his illustrious pageant: He is partial to him some fun young Ukrain gals who sport their hour-glass figures and actively encourage his (hummmmmina hummmmmina) lecherous leerings and palpitations. (~**~Shudder~**~)