The victory of Conchita Wurst in the 59th annual Eurovision song contest on Sunday has stirred a backlash in Russia on social networks and from the Russian Orthodox Church, with many Russians taking to social media to remove their beards in protest at the win.
In recent years social conservatism has become a watchword in Putin’s Russia with the leader looking to solidify his support by appealing to older voters and the country’s huge religious following. As such, Russia has attempted to set itself up as a bulwark against the permissiveness of Europe and the US, pushing back against the growing acceptance of gay marriage with a raft of draconian anti-gay legislation.
Wurst from Austria, real name if Tom Neuwirth, who won the competition wearing a beard and a dress, has been the subject of condemnation from within the Russian state for months, however following the singer’s victory many Russians took to Twitter and Instagram to post pictures of themselves symbolically shaving off their facial hair.
Rapper Aleksandr Stepanov, better known as ST posted a picture under the hashtag “Prove that you’re not Conchita”. Pro-Putin blogger Anton Korobkov did likewise.
Another Rapper called Timati, real name Timur Yunusov, also posted a beard shaving picture, while threatening to attack any gay couple in Russia that he saw holding hands.
Reaction was also swift from the Russian Orthodox Church, who decried Wurst’s victory as symptomatic of a global moral decline, adding that the performance was part of an agenda to “reinforce new cultural norms” and “yet one more step in the rejection of the Christian identity of European culture”.
Speaking to the Interfax News Agency, Vladimir Legoyda, chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s information department, said: “The process of the legalisation of that to which the Bible refers to as nothing less than an abomination is already long not news in the contemporary world. Unfortunately, the legal and cultural spheres are moving in a parallel direction, to which the results of this competition bear witness.”
The rest of Europe took a more inclusive approach to Austria's win, posting pictures of celebrities sporting Conchita-style beards...