Israel’s Eurovision entrant says he was harassed in Russia because he’s gay

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Israel’s entrant to the Eurovision Song Contest said he was harassed by Russian border control officers while travelling to Moscow for a preview event, blaming the harassment on his being gay.

The incident took place a couple weeks ago, but Hovi Star spoke about it on Friday during a television interview on Maltese television station TVM.

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“Maybe people in Moscow have a rough time with people like me, maybe because I’m gay, maybe because I dress like this, maybe because I wear make-up, I don’t know. But when I wanted to get into Moscow, I had problems with passport control. They told me I can’t go in, they looked at my passport, they ripped my passport and then they laughed at me,” he told the interviewers.

Star’s song for the contest, “Made of Stars,” reportedly is popular in Malta.

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Following the Incident, Star was issued a new passport by the Israeli consulate in Moscow to replace the ripped one.

The incident first became public when the Spanish contestant to Eurovision, Barei, who witnessed the incident, spoke about it during an interview on Spanish television. Barei spoke out against Russia over the treatment of Star.

“It’s amazing that this happened in the Eurovision bubble. My song talks about equality. It talks about how everybody is the same,” Star said in Malta. He added that he had visited Russia previously and liked the country. He added that he has received an outpouring of support in the wake of reports of the incident.

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