The Israeli entrant to the Eurovision song contest was humiliated by passport control in Russia due to his sexual orientation, the singer claimed.
Hovi Star, an openly gay performer, told a Maltese television station about the incident that took place in an airport in Moscow some two weeks ago. A segment of the interview was made available on YouTube on Saturday.
Star said immigration officers laughed at him, tore up his passport and told him he couldn’t enter the country.
“In Moscow, people have a rough time with people like me, maybe because I’m gay, maybe because I dress like this, maybe because I wear make-up, I don’t know,” he told the Maltese TV station.
“They told me I couldn’t go in, they looked at my passport, they ripped my passport, and then they laughed at me,” he added.
He was issued a new passport by the Israeli embassy in Moscow.
Star flew to Russia for a special concert intended to promote Israel’s entry to the Eurovision in a separate Russian song contest.
The singer said he never intended to speak out about the incident but the Spanish entrant to the Eurovision representative, Barei, witnessed the incident and spoke about it on Spanish TV.
“It is amazing that such a thing happens in this space of the Eurovision, which is open and accepting. My song speaks of equality and how we’re all born equal, and it’s a shame that such a thing has happened,” Star told the TV station in Malta where his song — Israel’s entry to the Eurovision contest, “Made of Stars” — is very popular.
“Let’s take this as a lesson. I don’t take it personally, I really like [the Russian Eurovision entrant] Sergey Lazarov, I like his song, and I like Russia, I’ve been there many times. This wasn’t a nice experience, we live, we learn, we continue, we smile and we give free love to everyone,” he concluded, to applause.
The Eurovision contest will take place in Stockholm in May.