The Miss Universe Organization, owned by American tycoon Donald Trump, is scheduled to hold its 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow, Russia on November 9, according to the Associated Press.
That doesn't sit well with nearly 6,000 people who have signed a Change.org petition demanding the pageant relocate its annual event to a nation that is more friendly and inclusive. Citing a spate of anti-LGBT laws and the increasing harassment, persecution, and violence against LGBT Russians and visitors, Francesco Pascuzzi launched the petition targeting Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart and PR coordinator Jackie Shahinan.
"Many Miss Universe fans, myself included, identify as LGBTQ," writes Pascuzzi in the petition. "And surely many employees of the organization are, as well. How are any of these people, who might want or will have to attend the event, supposed to travel to Russia under these new laws and feel safe, when they could (and likely will) be beaten, arrested and/or detained on the spot for being who they are? Clearly, there is more at stake here than the organization’s reputation. With this petition, we are asking the Miss Universe Organization to send a strong message in favor of equality and human rights by pulling out from hosting the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow."
Donald Trump, who formally acquired the Miss Universe Organization in 2003, has not commented on the petition, but did come under fire last year for excluding a transgender woman from Canada in the competition. After vocal condemnation from LGBT allies and media watchdog group GLAAD, Trump ultimately reversed the decision and allowed Jenna Talackova to compete in the Miss Universe Canada Pageant — making history as the first out trans woman to do so.