Eurovision Song Contest 2018: China censored Ireland’s gay dancers and ‘blurred out’ rainbow flags

China censored a performance of Ireland’s Eurovision Song Contest entry over gay themes, it has been reported.

Update: China has been banned from broadcasting Eurovision

Ireland took part in Tuesday’s Eurovision Song Contest semi-final in Lisbon, where Irish entrant Ryan O’Shaughnessy took to the stage to perform the track “Together,” a moving ballad about a failed relationship.

The entry featured interpretive dancers Kevin O’Dwyer and Alan McGrath re-enacting a same-sex love story, earning praise from audience members.

However, it has been alleged that the performance was censored from the broadcast of the contest in China.

Hunan TV holds the rights to broadcast the show in China, where it is available via its online broadcasting service Mango TV.

But Eurovision fans in the country say that the broadcaster censored O’Shaughnessy’s performance in its entirety.

Broadcasting guidance in China bans “abnormal sexual relationships and behaviours, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.”

Eurovision fansite ESCToday reports that the broadcaster also censored footage of rainbow flags being waved in the crowd at the event, using a crude ‘blur’ tool to obscure the LGBT rights symbol.

Countries taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest are obliged to air all entries in full, but as China only airs the contest as an international broadcaster it is unlikely sanctions can be pursued.

Russia, which does take part in the contest, had threatened to block the broadcast of the performance over the LGBT routine.

However, Channel One Russia eventually aired the Irish entry unedited when it aired the semi-final.

Speaking about his song, O’Shaughnessy said: “My only intention was to help people see that love is just love, and there’s no difference – whether it’s between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and a man.

“It’s so important, because not everyone is as liberal as the people in this [Eurovision press conference] room are, and the people I’ve gotten to meet over the past week.

“It’s an important thing, and I’m very proud of my country for making that change a few weeks back. I know a lot of Irish people went home to vote for the referendum on same-sex marriage, and we’re bringing a new energy back to that topic.”

Speaking to the Irish Independent, O’Shaughnessy added: “We have been the underdogs since we came here and no one thinks Ireland has what it had.

“But we made the Eurovision what it was and we are going to make it what it is in the future. We are going to win it on Saturday.

“Dublin for 2019! Unfortunately for RTE… I hope they can afford it. I am feeling so happy and I am feeling so proud of my team.”