Chinese viewers will no longer be able to watch the final of the world’s biggest song contest after the European Union killed its agreement with a Chinese TV station after it censored LGBT content — and tattoos.
Eurovision, the outrageously camp transcontinental song and dance competition that gave breaks to Abba and Celine Dion, is viewed by hundreds of millions of people around the world each year. However, fans in China will not be able to watch Saturday’s grand final after Mango TV, the company with the rights to broadcast Eurovision in China, blurred out LGBT symbols on recent episodes, including rainbow flags.
The broadcaster also cut two performances entirely, including Irish singer Ryan O'Shaughnessy, whose performance featured two male dancers portraying a gay couple. It also censored Albania’s Eugent Bushpepa because of a new law that forbids showing people bearing tattoos.
“It is with regret that we will therefore immediately be terminating our partnership with the broadcaster and they will not be permitted to broadcast the Grand Final," the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the event, said in a statement.
China has long been criticized for its stance on homosexuality. Guidelines released in 2016 characterized homosexuality as an “abnormal sexual behavior” unfit for Chinese television, alongside incest, sexual abuse and “perversion.”
Last month one of China’s biggest social networks Sina Weibo quickly reversed a ban on gay content following an outcry by users.
“From the very start we've said love is love, whether it's between two guys, two girls or a guy and a girl, so I think this is a really important decision,” O'Shaughnessy told the BBC after the ban was announced.
Cover image: The 10 artists who qualify to the Final celebrate on stage during the first semi-final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal on May 8, 2018. (Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)