Ireland’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy performs “Together” during the Semi-Final 1 for Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena hall in Lisbon, Portugal, May 8, 2018. © Pedro Nunes / Reuters
Rumors that Russia banned the broadcasting of Ireland’s Eurovision performance because it featured a gay couple have been making the rounds on Twitter and Irish media outlets.
It’s unclear exactly how the rumors began, but seem to have originated from a gay news website which published a YouTube video in March titled “Ireland’s gay Eurovision entry may rile Russians.”
The Russians are now threatening a broadcasting ban because of my video for ‘Together’. Anti-gay propaganda regime at its finest! Hilarious if you ask me.. #IDareYouhttps://t.co/6j1ECrdLBi
— Ryan O'Shaughnessy (@Ryan_Acoustic) March 12, 2018
In the ‘news’ video, the presenter claims Ireland’s entry “could result in a broadcast ban in Russia” thanks to “Russia’s strict anti-gay propaganda laws” — but no evidence of any threat from Russia to ban the broadcast of the performance is provided.
Despite a lack of evidence or details beyond mere speculation, that video was then tweeted by the Irish artist Ryan O’Shaughnessy who is the co-writer and performer of the Eurovision song in question. Soon, the false information was all over Irish media, being picked up by a handful of popular Irish news websites as well as some more obscure outlets.
That rumour really grew legs, despite the fact that there was never any threat from #Russia to not broadcast #Ireland's #Eurovision performance. The rumour started on YouTube and was picked up and publicised by all of Irish media. pic.twitter.com/fUeW5shJl2
— Danielle Ryan ???✍️ (@DanielleRyanJ) May 9, 2018
The anger came to a head on Tuesday night when a Twitter user seemingly confirmed that Russia had indeed “refused to broadcast” Ireland’s entry during the first semi-final event in Lisbon. But the tweet, which was retweeted hundreds of times, was entirely made up.
Russia have just refused to broadcast Ireland's semi final #Eurovision performance, because it depicted same-sex love. Isn't it time Russia was booted out of the contest? ??♂️ pic.twitter.com/tyycQwsZAL
— J ∆ C K (@TheJackSullivan) May 8, 2018
In response, Twitter users in Russia began to post pictures of the Irish performance being broadcast, uncensored, on Russia’s Channel One. The performance can even be seen in full on a Russian TV streaming website, for anyone who remains unconvinced.
On Tuesday morning, popular Irish news website TheJournal.ie published a fact-check of the claims and confirmed that Russian TV had shown O’Shaughnessy’s performance with “no warning, no censorship and no attempt to stifle the broadcast whatsoever”.