Gay Activists in Russia Not Allowed to Hold March Named After ‘Bearded Lady’ Conchita Wurst

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | May 16, 2014 11:47 AM EST

Gay activists in Russia would not be allowed to hold The March of Bearded Women and Men named after Conchita Wurst. The May 27 march was supposed to be a celebration of the 21st anniversary of the abolition of criminal prosecution for homosexuality in the country.

REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Austria's Conchita Wurst poses with her trophy after a news conference in Vienna May 11, 2014. Wurst, popularly known as "the bearded lady," won the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with the James Bond-theme-like ballad "Rise Like a Phoenix", before a global TV audience of about 180 million people in 45 countries.

Nikolai Alekseev, the founder of the Moscow pride movement, said that it would not be possible to get the verdict before the date of the scheduled public event even though the decision of not allowing the march would urgently be appealed in court. According to Russian Web site Pravda, Russian gay activists would apply for the permission to hold a traditional annual gay pride parade in Moscow on May 16. The parade is scheduled to be held on May 31. "If the authorities do not coordinate the parade either, as it has been during the last eight consecutive years, we will combine the 'bearded march' named after Conchita Wurst and the gay parade on the same day, May 31," Mr Alekseev said.

Conchita Wurst came into prominence after the Austrian transvestite artist won the Eurovision singing competition 2014. The bearded drag queen was born a man whose original name was Thomas Neuwirth. Interestingly, the word "wurst" means "sausage" in Germany. Her bearded appearance has been considered to be revolting by many in Russia. However, several MPs as well as the Russian Orthodox Church representatives considered Wurst's performance to be "propaganda of homosexuality and moral decay." Public performances of Wurst have been proposed to be banned in Russia as well.

Interestingly, several Russians including some celebrities shaved their beard and joined the latest movement on social media, called Prove you're not Conchita. David Sim earlier reported that Russian men showed that they were "real men, not drag queens" by shaving their beards and positing the shaven look on social media. Several people in Russia were apparently found the "the bearded lady" as offensive.

Alekseev, on the other hand, sounded defiant on organising the May 31 gay pride parade. "If the authorities decline to authorize that event as well, like they have done for the past eight years, we will combine the bearded march named after Conchita Wurst and the gay pride parade and hold them on May 31," he said.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger / )
Austria's Conchita Wurst poses with her trophy after a news conference in Vienna May 11, 2014. Wurst, popularly known as "the bearded lady," won the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with the James Bond-theme-like ballad "Rise Like a Phoenix", before a global TV audience of about 180 million people in 45 countries.
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