In photos: queer protest calls for Eurovision boycott

In photos: queer protest calls for Eurovision boycott

Hundreds gathered yesterday to call for the BBC and UK Eurovision hopeful Olly Alexander to boycott the singing competition next month.

Last night, April 25th, 200 people gathered outside of the BBC in central London calling on the broadcaster and the UK's Eurovision contestant Olly Alexander to boycott this year’s song contest in solidarity with Palestinians.

The protest came after the European Broadcasting Union announced Israel would continue to be allowed to participate in the Eurovision song contest despite calls for the country to be barred. Groups in participating countries as well as the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel have urged the EBU to ban Israel following more than 200 days of genocide in Gaza which has killed almost 40,000 people. Previously the EBU had banned Russia from participating in the competition following it’s invasion of Ukraine.

The demonstration last night was called byQueers for Palestine, Fossil Free Pride, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and London for a Free Palestine and featured included drag performers, Palestinian music, speeches and chants.

Protestors carried bright pink placards claiming the BBC’s reporting of Israeli military action in the Gaza strip since October 7th last year has been “whitewashing Israel’s genocide”. Other placards directly addressed actor and pop star Olly Alexander, who is the UK’s hopeful in the song contest, urging them to “listen to the call from Palestinians”. 

A Palestinian musician and activist for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement said, “Olly, do the right thing. Boycott Eurovision”. A representative of the Palestinian Youth Movement also said in a speech, “We see through Israel’s use of cultural events like Eurovision to whitewash the genocidal violence foundational to its settler colonial project. And we say: Eurovision is complicit in this violence in its refusal to exclude the Zionist entity”

They continued, “The struggle for queer liberation and the Palestinian struggle are fundamentally connected, and this is not explained merely by an appeal to the existence of queer Palestinians. It is explained in our shared understanding that we face the same enemies in capitalism, colonialism and imperialism”.

London drag artists joined the protest with Len Blanco performing Euphoria, a classic Eurovision tune, and Sweet FA hosting the demonstration. Other drag artists were pictured holding a large banner reading Boycott Eurovision.

The protest comes a month after an open letter with over 19,000 signatures called on Olly Alexander to boycott the contest due to Israel’s participation. Signatories included almost two thousand queer artists, individuals and organisations including Alice Oseman, creator of hit queer show Heartstopper, TV stars Maxine Peake and Indya Moore, musicians Goat Girl, H Sinno and Chardine Taylor-Stone, writers Sarah Schulman, Jason Okundaye and Jamie Windust, and groups like ACT UP. The signatories said that “By refusing to expel Israel from the competition, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is providing cultural cover and endorsement for the catastrophic violence that Israel has unleashed on Palestinians.”

Photographer Aiyush Pachnanda was down at the BBC to capture all the action.

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