Host Andy Cohen has pulled out
Miss Universe has condemned Russia’s gay propaganda law but says that it will not relocate its November pageant from Moscow.
The organisation has come under growing pressure over hosting the event in the Russian capital.
A Change.org petition calling for the pageant to be moved has been signed by almost 30,000 people.
Last week, openly gay TV presenter Andy Cohen, who has co-hosted the event for the past two years, pulled out of the pageant due to the country’s anti-gay policies.
In statement issued on Tuesday, the Miss Universe Organization said that the notorious gay propaganda law, “as well as the violence experienced by the LGBT community in Russia, are diametrically opposed to the core values of our company”.
It said, however, that it hopes that “this year’s Miss Universe contest in Moscow will help foster a common understanding and appreciation of the rights of all individuals, regardless of their nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation”.
The organisation further stated that it believes that the Miss Universe pageant “provides a forum through which contestants from more than 90 countries, as well as their families and friends, forge bonds with citizens of a host country, helping to serve as a catalyst for social change”.
According to the petition, Russia is “no longer a safe destination and host country” for the pageant’s many LGBT fans.
Miss Universe said that it is “working with our Russian hosts to ensure the security and well-being of those travelling to Russia for the pageant”.
Last year, the Miss Universe Organization amended its policies to allow women who are transgender to participate in its beauty competitions.