Eurovision 2019: Belarus TV host's homophobic remarks condemned

Yavhen Perlin interviewing Eurovision performer from Belarus Zena Image copyright Belarus Television
Image caption Some social media users said they felt embarrassed by Yavhen Perlin's remarks

Homophobic remarks by a Belarusian state TV presenter during the Eurovision song contest in Israel have stirred indignation on social media in Belarus.

Yavhen Perlin was providing live commentary during the semi-finals on 14 May, when a "kiss-cam" zoomed into affectionate couples during the performance by Israel's transgender pop diva Dana International.

"They are sending the kiss-cam across the hall! Let's see what we get!" Mr Perlin said.

But after the first couple caught by the camera appeared to be two men kissing, the presenter reacted: "Oh, my goodness! Maybe we'd better not watch!"

When the camera moved on to a man and a woman having a smooch, he added, with a sense of relief: "Ok, so far so good!" But a few seconds later, another male couple were shown kissing, at which point the presenter exclaimed: "Oh, come on!"

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He went on to say that he hoped the cameramen will "finally find some cool couples" in the audience.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption "We all deserve to be loved," Dana International told the audience in Tel Aviv

As Dana International was performing Bruno Mars's song Just The Way You Are, the Belarusian presenter remarked: "Dana is singing that love has no religion, no boundaries, no racial or any other limits. But you know, I want values to preserve their value, so that love remains love."

'Rock bottom'

Mr Perlin's views provoked strong reaction on social media.

"I felt so embarrassed!" wrote Radio Liberty journalist Ales Piletski on Facebook. "The good thing is that these boorish jokes are not heard in other countries."

Another journalist, BelaPAN news agency director Andrei Aliaksandrau didn't hold back: "It feels like the Belarusian Television presenter really hit rock bottom this time, though BT is a champion in hitting rock bottom."

The sentiment was echoed by others on social media. One user tweeted: "A homophobic commentator is an embarrassment to the country."

"They show men kissing and Perlin freezes. Oh, my god, this is gay propaganda on BT! A historic moment indeed," remarked another.

Reporting by Dmytro Zotsenko and Gennadiy Kot

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