Andy Cohen Turns Down Miss Universe Hosting Gig in Russia: "Their Discriminatory Policies Make It Unsafe for the Gays"

Show host tells Giuliana Rancic that "he didn't feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia"

By Bruna Nessif Aug 14, 2013 10:21 PMTags
Andy Cohen, Giuliana RancicRichard D. Salyer/Miss USA

The Miss Universe pageant will be missing one familiar face this year.

Andy Cohen will not be taking his regular post as cohost of the 2013 Miss Universe competition, which will be held on Nov. 9 at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia.

The Watch What Happens Live star told his friend and pageant cohost of the past two years, E! News' Giuliana Rancic, that he turned it down because "their discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there
and gays coming to work or visit."

"The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested," he told Rancic, adding that he "didn't feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia."

Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

This is the first time Russia will be hosting the Miss Universe pageant. A petition has been formed to urge the organization to move the competition out of Russia, "where LGBTQ people are under attack."

Implemented last month, a controversial new law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors" bars the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it. The law has been condemned by Russian and international human rights groups as highly discriminatory.

The anti-gay propaganda law quickly stirred up controversy, with people calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia to gay bars in Los Angeles planning "vodka-dumping" protests.

Even celebs have spoken out against the country's view on the homosexual community, including Lady Gaga.

"Sending bravery to LGBTs in Russia. The rise in government abuse is archaic. Hosing teenagers with pepper spray? Beatings? Mother Russia?" she first tweeted.

Gaga continued, "The Russian government is criminal. Oppression will be met with revolution. Russian LGBTs you are not alone. We will fight for your freedom...Why didn't you arrest me when you had the chance, Russia? Because you didn't want answer to the world?"

There is no word as to who will step in to replace Cohen at this year's pageant.

(NBC and E! are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)