Tensions around Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law continue to mount as the date of the opening ceremonies to the Sochi Winter Olympics draws closer. But another international event that precedes the Games is starting to get attention of its own.
The 2013 Miss Universe pageant is set to take place in Crocus City Hall in Moscow on Nov. 9, and one of this year’s hosts is MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, an openly gay married man. He’s sees his emceeing duties as a chance to “be visible.”
Earlier this year, former host Andy Cohen said he would not host the competition because of Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda laws. But Roberts, says that the laws are the exact reason that he wants to be there.
“This November, I will co-host Miss Universe in Moscow partly because it is a huge, visible opportunity for LGBT people. Everywhere,” he wrote in a letter Thursday on MSNBC.com.
In August, the Miss Universe Organization issued its own statement that Russian laws are “diametrically opposed to the core values” of Miss Universe.
This morning Roberts held a phone interview with Donald Trump, who is a co-owner of the Miss Universe pageant. Trump said that he doesn’t like the anti-LGBT laws but that the pageant going to Moscow is “a great thing.”
“Going in the face of some of their rules, regulations, or laws is something that, frankly, we can avoid it and hide, which I don’t think is good, and I can tell you the gay groups over in Moscow are loving the fact that we’re going over there,” Trump said. “So we can hide or we can do something about it. And I think you’re going to do something about it and I think I’m going to do something about it.”
Roberts also asked Trump if his condemnation of Russia’s gay rights translates to a shift in his perspective about marriage equality in the United States. Trump told Howard Stern earlier this year, “People know that it’s [gay marriage] not my thing one way or the other.” But Trump was quick to tell Roberts, who is married, that views on U.S. same sex marriage are still the same (“no, it doesn’t change”).
Roberts thanked Trump for giving him the opportunity to host, and now like the rest of the world watching to see, Roberts said, “We will wait and see.”