In Depth

Chinese broadcaster loses Eurovision rights over LGBT censorship

Mango TV blacked out segment featuring two male dancers during Irish performance in semi-final

A leading Chinese state broadcaster has been banned from broadcasting the rest of the Eurovision song contest after it censored LGBT content from the first semi-final, including Together by Ireland’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy.

The European Broadcast Union (EBU), an alliance of public service broadcasters, said in a statement the contract allowing the Chinese broadcaster to televise the 2018 contest was terminated immediately, “leaving Mango TV unable to air the second semifinal on Thursday and the Grand Final on Saturday”, says the Daily Telegraph.

Mango TV “was criticised on social media for apparently blurring rainbow flags and censoring tattoos during Tuesday's first semi-final”, says the BBC.

The video-streaming site linked to a Chinese state broadcaster Hunan TV, blacked out the performance of Ireland’s O’Shaugnessy, during which two male dancers depicted a fraught relationship. The broadcaster also pixelated a rainbow flag waved during another performance.

The EBU said on Friday it had terminated its partnership with Mango TV because the censorship was not in line with its “values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music”.

Conservative attitudes towards LGBT issues in China are slowly changing. “Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1997 and removed from the government’s list of mental disorders in 2001, but discrimination and practices such as forced gay conversion therapy are still used” says The Guardian.

Although “Eurovision is not widely popular in China”, adds the paper, news of the censorship circulated around social media today. One Weibo user wrote: “Is this really that sensitive? If things keep going this way, soon even rainbows in the sky will have to be blurred out.”

O'Shaughnessy told the BBC that he welcomed the EBU's decision.

“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,” he said.

The Eurovision Song Contest, featuring musicians from 43 countries, is popular in countries outside of Europe. This year it is being held in Lisbon, Portugal.

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