Andy Cohen declines hosting Miss Universe in Russia over safety concerns

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.

Photos: Take a look at last year's Miss Universe contestants

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.)

Photos: Hollywood gets political

  • Slideshow Photos

    Steve Marcus / X00642

    Image: Miss California Carrie Prejean

    Beauty queen scandals

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

  • Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss Delaware Teen USA -

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

    First up: Melissa King, Miss Delaware Teen USA, resigned her crown on Feb. 26, 2013, after a sex video featuring a woman resembling her surfaced online.

    @Melissa_M_King\Twitter / @Melissa_M_King\Twitter
  • Miss USA 2012

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Called Miss USA 'rigged' -

    After Miss Pennsylvania 2012, Sheena Monnin, spoke out on Facebook against the Miss Universe organization in June, calling it "trashy" and "rigged," co-owner Donald Trump threatened a lawsuit.

    Miss Universe Organization / Miss Universe Organization
  • Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Facing DUI charges -

    Former Miss USA Rima Fakih, pictured here on April 11, 2012 as she faces DUI charges in district court in Highland Park, Mich. Fakih pleaded no contest in the case, and on May 9 she was sentenced to probation and community service for driving under the influence and getting pulled over with an open Champagne bottle in her car.

    AP, Reuters / AP, Reuters
  • Image: Canadian model Talackova attends news conference in Los Angeles

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    A transgender Miss Universe? -

    Jenna Talackova, a transgender beauty queen, protested the decision by pageant representatives to drop her from the Miss Universe Canada competition. She was finally given the green light to go by the Donald Trump-led Miss Universe Organization. The 23-year-old will, however, need to prove that she meets the "legal gender recognition requirements of Canada," according to local media.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Shannon Marketic, Miss USA 1992

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss California 1992 -

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

    First up: Miss California 1992 Shannon Marketic, center, was accused of stealing almost $90 in beauty products from a Target store in August 2010. Marketic, 38, denies stealing the items and says they rolled in the cart and landed underneath her purse.

    AP, Denton Police Department / AP, Denton Police Department
  • Carrie Prejean,  Billy Bush,  Nadine Velazquez

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Former Miss California USA 2009 -

    Hosts Billy Bush and Nadine Velazquez listen as Miss California Carrie Prejean makes her highly publicized answer to a question from judge Perez Hilton about legalizing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas on April 19, 2009. The controversy grew in ensuing weeks when Prejean became the spokesperson for a national group opposing same-sex unions, after which racy photos of her surfaced. Prejean blamed people opposing her views for the release of the photos. She eventually surrendered her crown after pageant officials accused her of missing events, an allegation she denied.

    AP / AP
  • Dayana Mendoza

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss Universe 2008 -

    Crowned Miss Universe in July 2008, Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza kept her crown despite risque photos that showed the beauty queen topless, though covering most of her chest. The Miss Universe president said that Mendoza’s photographs had "artistic beauty."

    AP / AP
  • Playboy Playmate Athena Lundberg Celebrates At Hawaiian Tropic Zone

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss Washington 2008 -

    Elyse Umemoto, Miss Washington and second runner-up in this year's Miss America pageant, was shown flipping off the camera while wearing her crown, playing beer pong, posing in her bra and making suggestive hand signs on TMZ.com.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Miss South Florida Fair 2008

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss South Florida Fair 2008 -

    Jessica Wittenbrink, who was crowned Miss South Florida Fair 2008, says her evening gown was smeared with lipstick during the competition.

    Palm Beach Post via Zuma Press / Palm Beach Post via Zuma Press
  • Ingrid Marie Rivera

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss Puerto Rico 2007 -

    Ingrid Marie Rivera smiles during a beauty pageant in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Rivera beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said.

    AP / AP
  • Amy Polumbo

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss New Jersey 2007 -

    Amy Polumbo was crowned Miss New Jersey 2007. An anonymous person threatened to reveal "scandalous" photos of the beauty queen, but Polumbo refused to cave in to the blackmail. She took the incident public and revealed the photos herself on TODAY.

    AP / AP
  • Tara Elizabeth Conner

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss USA 2006 -

    Tara Conner, representing Kentucky, won the Miss USA title in 2006 and moved to New York City where she partied in clubs and drank despite being underage. Donald Trump gave her a reprieve, allowing her to retain the title after she agreed to enter rehab and undergo drug testing.

    AP / AP
  • MISS TEEN USA 2007 COMPETITION

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss South Carolina Teen USA -

    Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina, became a Internet sensation with her nonsensical answer to a question during the Miss Teen USA competition in August 2007. The 18-year-old got a chance to redeem herself on TODAY when she was again asked why one-fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a map.

    Miss Universe via AP / Miss Universe via AP
  • Valerie Begue

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss France 2008 -

    Despite racy photos that appeared recently in a gossip magazine, Miss France 2008 Valerie Begue will keep her crown, but will not compete in the Miss World or Miss Universe pageants.

    AP / AP
  • Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss Nevada USA 2006 -

    Katie Rees was stripped of her title in 2006 after racy photos of her appeared on the Internet. Some of the photos showed her kissing other young women, exposing her breasts and pulling down her pants to show her thong underwear. Afterwards, Rees signed a two-year, $2 million-plus deal to host a variety show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. In April, Rees agreed to pay fines for five misdemeanor traffic violations in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of resisting arrest.

    AP / AP
  • Ashley Harder

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss New Jersey USA 2007 -

    Ashley Harder held the title of Miss New Jersey USA 2007 and was set to compete in the Miss USA pageant before she became pregnant and voluntarily stepped down. Runner-up Erin Abrahamson assumed the title.

    Courier-Post via AP / Courier-Post via AP
  • Image: Christina Silva

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss California USA 2008 -

    Christina Silva, 24, was declared Miss California USA in November only to have her crown revoked days later. Pageant official say a mix-up in tallying the votes led to the wrong woman being crowned. Silva, who is Hispanic, is suing the pageant, alleging rigging and racial bias.

    AP / AP
  • Miss World 2004 Crowned In Sanya

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss Great Britain 2006 -

    Danielle Lloyd was stripped of her title after it was revealed that she had posed nude for Playboy and amid accusations that she was dating one of the judges at the time of the contest. Lloyd went on to star in the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother in 2007 where she and other contestants were accused of bullying and making racist comments about Indian actress Shilpa Shetty.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Bench Warmer Trading Cards Pre-Valentine Day Event

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss United States Teen 2003 -

    Former Miss Oregon Teen USA Kari Ann Peniche was stripped of her title in 2003 after she posed nude for Playboy magazine. Peniche appeared as a patient on the VH1 television show Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew but was involuntarily discharged.

    In 2009, a racy video of Peniche, "Grey’s Anatomy" star Eric Dane and his wife Rebecca Gayheart was leaked. The 12-minute video was said to be shot inside Peniche’s apartment, and within it, Gayheart said she was high.

    WireImage / WireImage
  • Image: Miss Teen Louisiana busted for allegedly skipping out on the bill

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008 -

    Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008 Lindsey Evans was stripped of her crown 10 days before completing her reign. She and her friends skipped out on a $46 restaurant bill, and Evans left behind her purse, which contained a bag of marijuana. The women were arrested for theft and drug possession when they returned to retrieve the purse.

    Splash News / Splash News
  • FEDOROVA

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss Universe 2002 -

    Former Miss Russia Oxana Fedorova was fired less than four months into her reign for missing too many events. She was a law student at the time and complained that being Miss Universe interfered with her education. "I never had any intention of abandoning my university work," she said.

    The pageant president said contestants know Miss Universe is a full-time job and that winners spend 80 percent of their time traveling as goodwill ambassadors.

    AP / AP
  • Vanessa Williams Relinquishes Her Miss America Title

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss America 1984 -

    Vanessa Williams, representing New York, became the first black Miss America. She had to resign when nude photos taken before her beauty contest victories were published in Penthouse. The crown was given to Suzette Charles, who's also black. Williams later became a successful singer with such hits as "Save the Best for Last," and "Colors of the Wind." Some of her movie credits include "Eraser," "Soul Food" and "Dance with Me." She currently plays the scheming fashion editor on "Ugly Betty."

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Beauty Queen

    Beauty queen scandals

    of

    Miss World 1973 -

    Marjorie Wallace was dethroned about four months into her reign, after she was accused of dating too many high-profile men, including professional soccer player George Best and singer Tom Jones. The organizers said the first woman from the U.S. to win the title hadn't maintained Miss World's reputation. She later became a television host for "Good Morning Los Angeles" and "Entertainment Tonight."

    Everning Standard via Getty Images / Everning Standard via Getty Images



0:00
 
0:00
Your video begins in
0:00
TOP