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Russia bans parade for Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst

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Russia's treatment of gay rights has once again come under scrutiny as it announced it is banning a celebratory parade in honour of Conchita Wurst, the winner of this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

Officials in Moscow turned down a request from the leaders of a gay rights group to honour the Austrian singer, real name Thomas Neuwirth, who performs in drag as alter ego Conchita.

"We informed them that the event could not take place," Alexei Mayorov, from Moscow's mayoral office, told Russian news agency Interfax, adding that the parade application was rejected to "respect morality in the education of the younger generation".

There were also concerns it would provoke clashes between gays and their opponents, Interfax reported.

Ironically, the parade had been planned for May 27 - the 21st anniversary of Russia's legalising homosexuality.

While being gay isn't illegal in Russia, the country is widely seen as hostile to its LGBT population and president Vladimir Putin has come under fire for bringing in new laws seen as cracking down on gay rights.

Since his return to power in 2012, the country has criminalised the distribution of information on homosexuality to people under the age of 18 and upheld a ban on gay pride marches in Moscow for the next 100 years.

Austrian Eurovision entry Conchita Wurst celebrating her victory

The group behind the parade for Conchita said it will "urgently appeal" the decision and if they are still met with refusal, will join forces with a proposed gay pride parade on 31 May.

Before her rendition of Rise Like the Phoenix led her to victory at Eurovision, Wurst was called a "pervert" by Russian politician Vitaly Milonov.

“I can only say ‘Thank you for your attention!’” she responded. “If this is only about me and my person, I can live with it. I'm just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard."

Following her win, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of Russia's Liberal Democratic party, dramatically declared: "There's no limit to our outrage. It's the end of Europe."

Thankfully, Russian pop star Filipp Kirkorov, who produced Moscow's Eurovision entry this year, presented an alternative view for his country, saying: "It was the song that won, and in my opinion it was a beautiful song."

He added: "With a beard, without a beard, a woman, a man - it is unimportant, this is a competition, a song contest."

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