Miss Universe host slams Russia for 'demonising' gays

Miss Universe host slams Russia for 'demonising' gays
Contestants rehearse before the finals of the Miss Universe competition.

MOSCOW - US television host Thomas Roberts, who is in Moscow to present Miss Universe contest and is openly gay, has condemned Russia's homophobic legislation in what he called dark times for the country.

"The Russian laws obviously are a dark time and a dark chapter in LGBT history here," Roberts told AFP after arriving in Moscow with his husband ahead of the Miss Universe final on Saturday.

"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 co-host of Saturday's Miss Universe final married his partner last year after publicly coming out in 2006. He hosts "MSNBC Live", a daily news show.

President Vladimir Putin in June signed a law banning promotion of homosexuality to minors that has prompted international outrage and fears that its wording can be used to outlaw any gay pride event.

Similar laws had previously been passed at local level in several cities.

"These laws represent the fact that the government is seeking a solution for a problem that doesn't really exist. There really is no reason to demonise the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) population," said Roberts.

"In this atmosphere here we're seeing the problem with homophobia being condoned and these laws actually allowing people to be victimised."

Among the celebrities to criticise the gay rights situation in Russia are US pop stars Madonna and Lady Gaga. Openly gay British actor Stephen Fry called for Russia to be barred from holding the Olympics in Sochi.

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