Israeli Singer Says Russian Officials Tore His Passport for Being Gay

Hovi Star, Israel's Eurovision entrant, says officials at Moscow airport told him he cannot enter the country and tore his passport apart.

Hovi Star performing at a children's music festival in December 2009.
David Bachar

Israeli Eurovision Song Contest entrant Hovi Star said he was harassed by Russian border control officers for being gay on a recent trip to Moscow. 

The alleged homophobic incident started with airport officers pointing and laughing at him and culminated with them tearing his passport apart, Star said during a television interview in Malta.

"Maybe people in Moscow have a rough time with people like me, maybe because I’m gay, maybe because I dress like this, maybe because I wear make-up, I don’t know. But when I wanted to get into Moscow, I had problems with passport control. They told me I can’t go in, they looked at my passport, they ripped my passport," the Israeli singer, whose Eurovision entry Made of Stars is popular in Malta, told his interviewer. 

The singer said that he was eventually let in, and went on to perform at a Eurovision preview event in the Russian capital. He was issued a new passport by the Israeli consulate in Moscow. 

"Let’s take this as a lesson. I don’t take it personally, I really like Sergei Lazarov and I like Russia. This wasn’t a nice experience, we live, we learn, we continue, we smile and we give free love to everyone," he said.

Star told the Israeli news website Ynet that at first he didn't want to make the incident public, but after the Spanish Eurovision entrant, who witnessed the incident, spoke out against Russia on a Spanish TV program, he decided to do so as well.

The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Stockholm in May.