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Petition calls on Miss Universe pageant to relocate over Russia’s anti-gay laws

A popular new petition on Change.org is calling on the Miss Universe Organization, owned and operated by real estate and reality TV mogul Donald Trump, to relocate its upcoming pageant from Moscow, Russia in November 2013 due to the country’s anti-gay legislation.

Francesco Pascuzzi, a lifelong pageant fan and openly gay man from Somerville, New Jersey, launched the petition in protest of Russia’s recently passed anti-gay laws. In addition to passing sweeping legislation that bans the “promotion” of homosexuality, the country now also prohibits lesbian and gay couples from adopting Russian children. Reports of violence against LGBT people have also made international news in recent weeks.

“I’ve loved pageants since I was a young boy, and I was taken aback to learn that Miss Universe would host its pageant in Russia this year,” says Francesco Pascuzzi, who launched his campaign on Change.org. “It seems insensitive to bring an event that is supposed to be festive and joyous — focused on celebrating different cultures and nations coming together — to a country where LGBTQ citizens are being treated like criminals and brutalized day in, day out.”

More than 22,000 people have joined the petition to date, including pageant fans and participants who have left comments in support of the campaign:

Abby DePhillips, Miss Teen New Jersey 2013, signed and commented on the petition: “Beauty queens should be looking towards the FUTURE! Allowing Russia to host Miss Universe 2013 pushes us back years and years! As Miss T.E.E.N. New Jersey, I believe the MUO needs to find a new location, preferably one with better laws and values.”

Pageant fan Christian S. of Fort Worth, Texas, signed and commented on the petition: “I’m gay and I am a big fan of Miss Universe pageants. I have been to the last four Miss Universe events, but this time I’m not going to Russia, where I’ll feel persecuted.

New signatures on Francesco’s petition are sent via email to Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization. While the International Olympic Committee has reacted to calls for protection for athletes and fans at the 2013 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the Miss Universe Organization has so far remained silent.

In the spring of 2012, Jenna Talackova, a transgender woman originally disqualified from competing in the Miss Universe pageant, was allowed to participate after more than 20,000 people signed a Change.org petition calling on Donald Trump to stop discriminating against trans women.

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