A new Miss Universe is crowned, Thomas Roberts does nothing for LGBT issues and collects paycheck from Donald Trump.
Russia’s LGBT rights record not discussed during Miss Universe pageant
Participants in the Miss Universe 2013 pageant that took place in Moscow on Saturday did not discuss Russia’s LGBT rights record during the broadcast of the event.
Gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, who co-hosted the pageant with singer Mel B, earlier on Saturday described Russia’s law banning gay propaganda to minors as a “discriminatory” statute that “condones the closet” during an interview with fellow MSNBC anchor Alex Witt from the Russian capital with Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo. Roberts further criticized the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record during an interview with Agence France-Presse after he and his husband, Patrick Abner, arrived in Moscow.
“The Russian laws obviously are a dark time and a dark chapter in LGBT history here,” Roberts said. “They’re seeking a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist and meanwhile it causes new problems because it allows people to abuse and hurt and vilify the LGBT community under the guise of some propaganda law that’s just ridiculous.”
The pageant took place against the backdrop of growing outrage over the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record that threatens to overshadow the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Andy Cohen told E! News he turned down a request to co-host the pageant, in part, because “he didn’t feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia.”
The Miss Universe Organization in August criticized the gay propaganda law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed earlier this year and the ongoing anti-LGBT rights crackdown in the country. Donald Trump, who co-owns the pageant with NBC Universal, reiterated this position during an interview with Roberts last month.
“I don’t like what it’s all about,” Trump said. “We can go over there and make a difference.”
Roberts interviews gay Russian journalist in Moscow
John Aravosis of AMERICAblog and journalist Andrew Miller are among those who criticized Roberts’ decision to co-host the pageant.
“All kids — Russian, American or otherwise — need hope,” Roberts wrote in an MSNBC column that announced his decision to co-host the pageant. “I am a happy, healthy, gainfully employed, educated and married man. And yes, I am gay. These new Russian laws won’t stop Russians from being born LGBT and growing up to identify as such. Russia’s treatment of its LGBT citizens is unacceptable, unrealistic and only promotes homophobia and intolerance for a community that does and will continue to exist.”
Roberts on Nov. 6 interviewed Anton Krasovsky, the former editor-in-chief of a pro-Kremlin television station who said he lost his job in January after he came out during a segment on Russia’s gay propaganda law. Masha Gessen, a lesbian Russian American journalist, appeared on the MSNBC anchor’s program before he traveled to the country.
Roberts told “Today” show co-host Savannah Guthrie on Friday that he hasn’t “run into any discrimination so far since I’ve been here” in Russia.
“Visibility is really important,” Roberts told Guthrie. “I’m openly gay. I think it’s an interesting fact, but I’m certainly not embarrassed about it. I’m proud of my marriage. I’m proud of who I am.”
Oleg Klyuenkov of the Russian LGBT advocacy group Rakurs in the city of Arkhangelsk told the Washington Blade on Friday during an interview in D.C. that he feels most Russians will not watch the pageant. He nevertheless applauded Roberts’ decision to co-host it.
“It’s great,” Klyuenkov said.
I have it on good authority that had Thomas Roberts so much as waved his finger, Vladimir Putin was prepared to change every homophobic law in Russia and legalize gay marriage.
Such a lost opportunity.
He actually interviewed Russian gay and lesbians about their experiences living under a homophobic regime. That's not NOTHING.
What is the Washington Blade doing about it?
What is some anchor nobody in russia even knows of gonna do?
No wonder people dont wanna be part of the "lgbt" community. Geez.
Wish he had gone for something far more important than Miss Universe, but give him credit for making the most of the trip.
Thomas Roberts seems to be stuck in that afternoon time slot on MSNBC. I would like to see what he could do on one the weekend longer shows on MSNBC, even as a fill in. He's wasted in the afternoon.
Enough with Thomas Roberts. GAG!!!
I actually liked him a lot better on CNN.
On MSNBC, he's unwatchable!
The Andy Cohen quote kills me. He has no problem stereotyping every other minority for a quick buck. Trump probably just didn't offer him enough money.
R5 What American news anchor would even be remotely famous in Russia? And please don't make me laugh and say Anderson. The man can't even draw flies in this country.
Of all the men in the world capable of hosting the Miss Universe pageant, Donald Trump chose Thomas Roberts. Why do you think this happened? I saw it as a giant fuck you to the Russians on Trump's part. As to it doing nothing for LGBT issues, does having an openly gay, married man in front of a billion people do nothing to normalize gays?
[quote]I saw it as a giant fuck you to the Russians on Trump's part.
Then you're naive.
If Roberts was chosen by Trump because he was gay, it was to get a "reaction" the way every attentionwhore likes to get attention.
There is nothing "altruistic" about Trump's decision. He's a vile turd.
Most people wouldn't give a shit about the plight of LGBT Russians if there weren't an Olympiad about to take place there.
He is work was to host, not to talk about lgbt rights. Money talks.
[quote]He is work was to host, not to talk about lgbt rights. Money talks.
Roberts looked chunky last night -- like he was going to pop out of that jacket they gave him to wear.
The EU Court of Justice has just declared that being gay in a country that bans or opresses gays is a criterion for awarding asylum to any persecuted individuals. Germany has just given asylum to a young Russian man.
European court rules homosexuals can seek asylum in EU
Homosexuelle in Nigeria Eingereicht von: Christine Harjes - Bildautor: Katrin Gänsler
Three men from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Senegal sought refugee status in the Netherlands, arguing that they had a "well-founded fear" of being persecuted because of their sexual orientation.
Initially the application was denied as the Dutch authorities ruled that homosexuals could "exercise restraint" to avoid persecution. The Dutch Council of State, an advisory body to the government that also handles judicial appeals, took the matter to the European Court of Justice, which is the highest body dealing with EU law.
On Thursday, the European Court of Justice rejected the Dutch ruling.
The court ruled that it was not reasonable to expect people to conceal their sexuality in their countries of origin in order to avoid persecution. "A person's sexual orientation is a characteristic so fundamental to his identity that he should not be forced to renounce it," the Luxembourg-based court ruled on Thursday.
The court ruled that though laws against homosexual men and women effectively turned them into a "separate group" in their respective societies, this alone did not count as persecution.
"The acts of persecution must be sufficiently serious by their nature of repetition as to constitute a severe violation of basic human rights," the judges said.
The three joint cases have been referred back to the Dutch authorities for a final verdict.
Homosexuality is a crime in 38 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the rights organization Amnesty International.
Gay men and lesbians in sub-Saharan Africa routinely face discrimination and sometimes violence. The death penalty has been floated as an option for punishment in Uganda and other nations.
Thursday's ruling may also have implications for asylum requests from homosexual men and women who are persecuted in countries outside of Africa, for example in Russia.
I'll amit that if I ever wanted to win a vacuous contest I'd steer clear of those shoes cand that dress!"
Thomas Roberts Blasts Anti-LGBT Law on Russian TV
Speaking with the government-backed network RT just before he cohosted the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Russia, Roberts called the national ban on so-called gay propaganda 'definitive discrimination.'
Amid his cohosting duties for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow on Saturday, out MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts openly condemned the state's anti-LGBT laws on a Kremlin-backed network.
Roberts, in a purple tuxedo jacket with his sizable body guard standing by, spoke to Russia's state-sponsored TV network, RT, on Saturday evening from the red carpet, reports Mediaite.
"I know the law is very vague, and it's still hard to interpret for many people, but it is discrimination, and that's definitive," Roberts said. "I don't think that the LGBT population in Russia or anywhere, should be marginalized to that degree. We are not asking for special protection, we're just asking for equal respect."
The comments are some of Roberts' most direct condemnation of Russia's anti-LGBT laws, which prohibit "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships" where it might be visible to minors, as well as far-reaching adoption bans for gay or lesbian Russians or foreigners, or any single people who live in countries that embrace marriage equality.
Roberts also blasted the nation's anti-LGBT laws in an interview with Agence France-Press, calling them "a dark time and a dark chapter in LGBT history here."
In Moscow since Tuesday, Roberts filed several reports with MSNBC on Russia's anti-LGBT climate, including an interview with Antonin Krasovsky, a Russian journalist who was fired from his longtime position on a Kremlin-backed news network when he came out as gay earlier this year.
Ahead of the Miss Universe pageant on Saturday, Roberts sat down with outgoing Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo, and said he hadn't personally experienced anything homophobic while in Moscow.
Roberts has faced vocal critique for his decision to host the pageant, not only because it takes place in Russia, but also because the pageant is owned by American billionaire Donald Trump, a stalwart opponent to marriage equality. Nevertheless, Roberts told The Advocate last month that he and his husband, Patrick Abner, would "try to work on The Donald" when they were all together in Moscow this month.
In an interview with Trump for his own program on MSNBC, Roberts pressed the thrice-married tycoon on his continued opposition to marriage equality, including, presumably, Thomas and Abner's marriage.
“I think really what you have is a very changing stance, and you see it changing very rapidly," Trump told Roberts, according to MSNBC. "If you go back 10 years ago it’s very different.” Trump also pointed to high-profile politicians, including President Obama, coming out in support of same-sex marriage, reports MSNBC.
When Roberts asked Trump whether he's undergone a personal evolution on the issue, Roberts reiterated statements he's made previously. "I think I’m evolving, and I think I’m a very fair person, but I have been for traditional marriage," said Trump. "I am for traditional marriage, I am for a marriage between a man and a woman."
Watch Roberts' appearance on Russian TV below.