Chinese Television Censored Ireland’s Gay Eurovision Song Performance

Ryan O'Shaughnessy advanced to the finals with "Together," which featured a romantic dance between two men.

Mango TV, one of the biggest broadcasters in China, reportedly censored a performance in this week’s Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals because it contained a romantic same-sex dance.

Representing Ireland in Tuesday’s showdown, Ryan O’Shaughnessy performed “Together,” backed by male dancers Alan McGrath and Kevin O’Dwyer in a pas de deux. The two also appeared in the song’s video, but the entire number was cut from the Mango broadcast on Wednesday.

As a result, the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) terminated its contract with Mango, claiming the censorship was “not in line with the EBU’s values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music.”

O’Shaughnessy praised EBU’s decision: “They haven’t taken it lightly, and I think it’s a move in the right direction. I’m happy about it.”

LGBT subject matter is still taboo in China, where the government has banned depictions of homosexuality on television and streaming media. During other acts, rainbow flags in the audience were apparently blurred out.

There were reports Russia also censored O’Shaughnessy’s performance, but it aired in full there, even with the country’s ban on gay “propaganda” still in place. (The Russian commentator claimed the song was about “male friendship,” according to the Irish Independent.)

The network also cut tattooed Albanian singer Eugent Bushpepa, as tattoos are considered subversive by the Chinese government.

Both Bushpepa and O’Shaughnessy advanced to Saturday’s finals, but it’s not clear if Mango will air their numbers, as the network declined to address the omission. A spokesman for parent company HunanTV told AFP that they “weren’t aware” of edits to the Chinese broadcast.

The Eurovision Song Contest finals air Saturday, May 12, at 3pm/2c on Logo.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.