Eurovision 2016: Flag Controversy

Eurovision badgesEurovision 2016 –  The host venue of this year’s Eurovson, Globen arena, earlier uploaded a document outlining this year’s flag policy… and all hell broke loose. The policy (here) not only dictated the size of flags as usual but also listed flags which were prohibited, showing pictorial images of such flags including The Palestine Liberation Organization and ISIS, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabach, the Basque movement, the People’s Republic of Donetsk, Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, Transnistria and Crimea.

Flags of political movements and extremist groups will not be welcome. Nor will banners and posters written in anything but English.

The document clearly says ‘The official flag policy was accepted and approved by the ESC Reference Group, 27 April, 2016’

pride flags

The policy also states

“Rainbow flags and the European Union flag will be tolerated provided they will, according to the evaluation of the organisers, not be used as tool to intentionally make a political statement during the show. Particularly, the organisers request and urge the fan community to respect and appreciate the non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest.” This resulted in LGBT sites quickly voicing concerns about what many say is censorship.

UK fans reacted angrily to the rule that there should be no ‘Local, regional or provincial flags’ meaning Welsh fans in theory could not wave their red dragons in support of Joe from the UK entry. Fans have already said that they have raised the matter with the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

After a pretty huge and immediate backlash, the EBU quickly posted the following official statement on its Facebook account:

“On Thursday afternoon, a draft version of the flag policy for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest was published on the website of the Globe Arena and ticket agency AXS. The document included a non-exhaustive list of examples of flags that under the flag policy are prohibited in the venue. This document was not intended to be published.

The organisers understand and acknowledge the sensitivities of presenting a selection of flags of organisations and territories, each of them of very different nature. The organisers apologise to everyone who feels offended by the list.

The EBU has asked the Globe Arena and AXS to immediately remove the document that includes the flag examples, and to publish the official document, without the examples, instead.

The official and final flag policy document will be published on the official website, Eurovision.tv, later today, along with a full explanation.”

At the time of going to press Globen has not removed the document and nothing has been published on the official Eurovision site.



40 comments on “Eurovision 2016: Flag Controversy

  1. Banning the LGBT and the recognised regional flags is a bad idea IMO.

  2. ISIS flag…LOL

    • Yes this flag became part of our life’s lol :P

    • sigh! it reminds what is even worse about flags and about fighting for flags (Spain v Catalonia indepence), and how such things like “flags” are used as an excuse for people’s opinions against their own views
      bandera catalana placa del ajuntament

  3. Why South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Ajarian Republic Flags are not banned . Those 3 flags maybe make problems between Russian and Georgian fans !

  4. As i understand this,if the organizers judge that the fans use the rainbow flag to irk Russia and make a political statement then they have the right to take the flags away.If this is true,it’s awful!!!So,what’s the message?That we have to respect Russia’s homophobic laws?Waving the rainbow flags during the very gay friendly Russian entry is not a political statement.It’s a matter of human rights!

  5. I can understand the controversy in “regional” flags but banning rainbow flags in a gay-friendly contest?

    • But regional is so wide…Why shouldn’t the Welsh wave their flag, it’s their country. They’ve said regional… but then only put a list OK’d by the UN… which England, Scotland and Wales etc are not on. It’s not recognising some actual countries. Scotland is its own country with its own Parliament and laws and football team etc. I have never in my 46 years of life been told I cannot take and wave an England flag anywhere… until today.

      The more I think about that, the angrier I get. I had a Leicester FC flag when Englebert played as he’s a Leicester lad… that would be banned now. Might make it my mission get one in and on TV now. Talk about just asking for people to demonstrate and rebel.

      Insane draft policy, and more importantly, utterly unworkable. How on earth can they police it in a huge standing arena? They should have kept quiet and just made sure cameras didn’t show anything they didn’t want to show.

      • I was referring to the more “controversial” flags. I don’t see why a Welsh can’t wave his own flag either…

      • ay up me duck, (my parents still greet me with that, think it’s very East Midlands?!) and have lived all the issues you mentioned above (less the Falkand Islands issue!)

    • Regional flags is a different thing. The fact EBU thinks the Scottish Saltire might provoke the unionists in UK is ridiculous.

  6. Personal I am not against LGTB flag. But i am not sure if this flag stuck to ESC since ESC is not just Gay contest but a Contest for all . Rainbow flag is not a country but a movement flag , so with this though all movements flags can fly to Arena, and most probably this is the reason who EBU don’t allowed the Rainbow flag and not because of Russia….

  7. From tomorrow all ESC countries flags will be fly at my house garden and indoor ( included the non this year participate countries such: Monaco, Andorra, Turkey, Romania, Luxembourg and Slovakia ) :D Yeahhhhhh <3

  8. It is outrageous. Russia will be mocking us in our face with its camp show but fans wont be allowed to wave rainbow flags ?!?

    I hope fans literally block all view with flags during Russia’s performance, if not for any other reason, then just honor Hovi and his humiliation in the hands of russian airport authorities ! No pasaran !

  9. I’m obviously not happy about the rule, but consider: back in the old days there weren’t any flags, just an audience sitting still and listening to the songs. It was not as football-like as it is today.

    Imagine what the reaction would be if people started waving flags during a classical concert.

  10. As you all know by now, I never supported flags in ESC nor do I like all the crazy behaviour one sees on the main floor. That being said, and although I understand what they want to achieve, this move can easily become something more serious. Let’s see how it develops. Personally, I have nothing against rainbow flags, EU flags, regional flags and so on, I just think that should be waved some place else. One is there to listen to songs, not to root for a football team.

  11. Gotta love the reaction of Scottish fans not being able to wave Scottish flags – you don’t mess with Scotland :D Wonder if Nicola Sturgeon will reply to that.

    Regarding rainbow flags, I’ll copy paste my comment from the other article:

    Can they still wave rainbow flags in a non-political manner? lol
    The EBU sure doesn’t want to displease Putin this year.. Or maybe they are just trying to make the contest more appealing to the extreme right-wing.

  12. Won’t I be allowed to wave my Ba-Wü flag? :(
    That’s totally ridiculous. Everything is policed these days. That whole diversity talk is just a fake.

  13. The most ridiculous thing of all is that Jerusalem isn’t a de jure capital or a city of Israel – according to UN resolutions Israel should withdraw its forces – yet EBU things this isn’t provocative…and allows IBA to deliver their votes from there since 1974…:) :p

  14. As said before, ban all flags, or let them all on except for those of forbidden groups and associations.

  15. Either ban all flags that don’t represent a competing nation or just ban flags that would spew hate (ISIL, Taliban, Nazis, etc). I don’t know what the EBU expected the reaction to be when they banned flags like the Basque Country and Kosovo.

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