(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Russian authorities are denying claims that Israel's representative to Eurovision 2016, Hovi Star, was humiliated at the Moscow airport because he is a homosexual, according to Israeli media reports.
Star explained during an interview with Maltese TV that several weeks ago he was traveling through Moscow with other performers as part of the Eurovision tour when he was mistreated at passport control because of his sexual orientation.
"In Moscow, people have a rough time with me, maybe because I'm gay, maybe because I dress like this, maybe because I wear makeup—I don't know," Star said.
"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 and they laughed at me."
Star had to visit the Israel embassy in Russia to get a new passport.
"There was in fact some delay when Star passed through passport control but no one intended to humiliate him in any way," explained Dmitry Melnikov, the event coordinator for the Moscow leg of the tour.
"He was dressed in an eye-catching way and may have interpreted a standard smile of an airport official as abusive," said Melnikov.
"It is amazing that this happened in the Eurovision bubble because my song, 'Made of Stars,' talks about equality, about how everyone was born the same," explained the singer in the interview.
Star explained that he loves Russia and has even visited multiple times but that this experience was "unpleasant."
"I choose love. It's free. There's no need for hate, there's no need for negativity," said Star.
"I choose to really take it as a lesson, I don't take it personally," he added.
Star, 29, whose real name is Hovev Sekulets, will represent Israel in the annual contest to take place in Sweden next month after winning the final round of the reality TV singing competition HaKokhav Haba.