Gay comedian Tom Ballard has joined calls for a Eurovision boycott this year.
The song contest kicked off on Tuesday night (14 May), held in Tel Aviv, Israel. But some human rights activists are urging people not to watch this year, due to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
According to a press release from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Australia today (16 May), Palestinians are asking international audiences not to watch this year ‘while the Israeli state continues to commit war crimes, break international law and deny Palestinians equal human rights.’
Among prominent Australian celebrities like former SBS (the broadcaster airing Eurovision in Australia) newsreader Mary Kostakidis and actor Colin Friels, gay comedian Tom Ballard is also throwing his voice into the mix.
‘As a former employee and as someone who likes important, diverse television, I love SBS,’ he said. ‘As a homosexual, I am required by law to love Eurovision.
‘Both of these things are true.’
Ballard then added: ‘But I’m also compelled to love human rights.
‘I’m compelled to join the call from Palestine to boycott Eurovision this year, to call for an end to the persecution and apartheid of Palestinians and to demand justice from the international community.
‘Thank you for giving a shit and thank you for doing the right thing,’ he said.
Queer groups call for Eurovision boycott
Ballard adds his voice alongside hundreds of international celebrities, including Mike Leigh and Miriam Margolyes.
More than 60 queer and trans liberation organizations are also calling for a boycott. The majority of signatories are Palestinian queer groups.
Others include the National LGBT Committee for UNISON, ACT UP groups in France and the UK, and the Gay Liberation Network.
Haneen Maikey, director of alQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, commented: ‘As Palestinian queers, we are heartened by the increasing numbers of LGBTQIA communities taking a stand against Israel’s pinkwashing agenda in a true show of effective solidarity.
‘LGBTQIA communities are refusing to allow queer and trans liberation to be used by the Israeli regime of oppression as a progressive smoke screen to conceal its violent oppression of Palestinians. They are saying, “Our rights are indivisible from the rights of all oppressed communities.”
‘Joining and promoting the call to boycott Eurovision 2019 in Israel and Tel Aviv Pride help expose the Israeli government’s reprehensible co-opting of queer rights as a public relations tool to hide its crimes against Palestinians.’
2018’s Israeli Eurovision winner Netta previously said on the proposed boycott: ‘When you boycott light, you spread darkness.’
Gay host of Eurovision this year, Assi Azar, furthermore said: ‘I say to everyone that wants to boycott…. by boycotting you will never learn or understand the other side.
‘We want to live in peace next to our neighbors. That’s what I think Eurovision is all about. Live and let live, love and let love,’ he said.