Thursday, May 12, 2016, 20:04 by Philip Leone-Ganado in Stockholm
[Click here for the Video: Mark Zammit Cordina]
Ira Losco made an appearance at the Eurovision press centre this evening in support of gay rights, appealing for respect and equality on an issue that has become highly charged at this year’s song contest.
“I can’t imagine how difficult it can be to have a different sexual orientation or gender identity and needing to come to terms with it themselves first and then share it with others,” she said, holding a rainbow flag aloft.
“I’ve believed in this cause for so long and I believe Eurovision celebrates this individuality and difference and we should all embrace it. I want people around the world to open their eyes – it’s not just about tolerance. We should do more than tolerate each other; we need to be united and let people live their lives and be themselves.”
Losco is a longtime supporter of LGBTIQ issues, but her appearance at the press centre this evening will inevitably be seen in the context of the pressure Russian singer Sergey Lazarev, the favourite for the competition, has faced from the press over his country’s own dismal gay rights record.
LGBTIQ fans typically make up a major part of the travelling Eurovision contingent and fears have been raised in sections of the press over safety if Russia were to host the competition next year.
“Malta has ranked first in the [Ilga-Europe] LGBTIQ rankings, so we are number one as an island that welcomes everyone and anyone,” Losco said. “So make sure you get your asses there and have a great time.”