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Andy Cohen declines hosting Miss Universe in Russia over safety concerns

Aug. 15, 2013 at 4:15 PM ET

Former Miss Universe host Andy Cohen, shown with co-host Giuliana at the 2012 pageant on Dec. 19, 2012 in Las Vegas, has said he will not be attending this year's festivities in Russia.
David Becker / Getty Images
Former Miss Universe host and Bravo star Andy Cohen, shown with co-host Giuliana Rancic at the 2012 pageant on Dec. 19, 2012 in Las Vegas, announced he will not be attending this year's festivities in Russia.

The Miss Universe pageant will be missing one familiar face this year.

Andy Cohen will not be taking his regular post as co-host of the 2013 Miss Universe competition, which will be held on Nov. 9 at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia.

The "Watch What Happens Live" star told his friend and pageant co-host of the past two years, E! News' Giuliana Rancic, that he turned it down because he's "concerned for his safety."

"The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested," he told Rancic, adding that he "didn't feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia." 

This is the first time Russia will be hosting the Miss Universe pageant. A petition has been formed to urge the organization to move the competition out of Russia, "where LGBTQ people are under attack."

Implemented last month, a controversial new law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors" bars the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it. The law has been condemned by Russian and international human rights groups as highly discriminatory.

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The anti-gay propaganda law quickly stirred up controversy, with people calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia to gay bars in Los Angeles planning "vodka-dumping" protests.

Even celebs have spoken out against the country's view on the homosexual community, including Lady Gaga.

"Sending bravery to LGBTs in Russia. The rise in government abuse is archaic. Hosing teenagers with pepper spray? Beatings? Mother Russia?" she first tweeted.

Gaga continued, "The Russian government is criminal. Oppression will be met with revolution. Russian LGBTs you are not alone. We will fight for your freedom... Why didn't you arrest me when you had the chance, Russia? Because you didn't want answer to the world?"

There is no word as to who will step in to replace Cohen at this year's pageant.

(NBC, Bravo and E! are part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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