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After the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs) will return live from Budapest, Hungary this year, with the company planning to use the big event to counter the country’s recent anti-gay law and “stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in Hungary and around the world,” Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of MTV Entertainment Group Worldwide said in an internal memo.
MTV, part of ViacomCBS, will hold the live event on Nov. 14 as “a global celebration of music for all audiences around the world,” on Tuesday unveiling the Papp László Budapest Sportaréna as the venue.
But McCarthy acknowledged in his memo that the decision to stick to the location “may surprise anyone who knows that in June of this year Hungary passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, brought forward by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling party, banning television content featuring gay people during the day and in primetime, only allowing it to run in the overnights.”
He continued: “Let me be clear, it’s been widely reported that if enforced as written, the law could impact mainstream content like Modern Family and Friends, movies like Harry Potter, Star Trek and others. As a result, ViacomCBS, along with others like Google and Lego, banded together to publicly oppose this law stating it would increase discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ+ people.”
McCarthy also shared some personal thoughts, writing: “I have to be honest with you, as a gay man, my personal emotions got the better of me. After learning this legislation passed, my knee jerk reaction was that we should move the event to another country. However, after my emotions cooled down, I picked up the phone to connect with global LGBTQ+ advocates like All Out, got feedback from LGBTQ+ advocates in Hungary, spoke with … other team members from around the world and consulted our LGBTQ+ employee resource group, Emerge.”
The result will see the celebration go ahead in the Hungarian capital. “The decision was very clear to all of us,” McCarthy explained. “We should not move the event. Instead, we should move forward, using the show as an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in Hungary and around the world as we continue to fight for equality for all.”
As part of that, MTV and LGBTQ+ advocacy group All Out said on Tuesday that they will honor “young changemakers from around the world who are furthering equality and love while fighting against anti-LGBTQ+ policies with the 2021 MTV EMA Generation Change Award.” Further details of how the MTV EMAs will showcase solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community weren’t immediately unveiled. Hosts and performers for the event will also be announced at a later date.
“With a global footprint spanning 180 countries and countless cultures, the 2021 MTV EMAs will be an incredible moment for every member of our audience to come together to celebrate music and the power it has to transcend borders,” said Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International. “After such a long period, I couldn’t be happier for the EMAs to land in Budapest for what’s sure to be an extraordinary night that will resonate globally.”
And McCarthy added in a statement: “Growing up gay in a working-class community, being able to see out role models on TV like Pedro Zamora from The Real World provided a literal lifeline for me and inspired a sense of hope and possibility to be the full person I was meant to be. That is why I am so proud to work at ViacomCBS, which has always championed equality for all, and why I’m so honored to stand in solidarity with my LGBTQ+ siblings as we celebrate the 2021 MTV EMAs from Hungary.”
Bruce Gillmer, president of music, music talent, programming & events at ViacomCBS, promised “an epic event” and highlighted: “The MTV EMAs are our biggest night in global music, uniting fans from every corner of the world.”
MTV Entertainment on Tuesday also unveiled a global partnership expanding its relationship with All Out. “The wide-reaching partnership will continue MTVE and ViacomCBS’ commitment to using its Content for Change as the global brand harnesses the power of its platforms in 180 countries to further diversity, equity and inclusion around the world,” the partners said.
“As a global organization fighting for equality around the world, we are excited to deepen our partnership with MTV Entertainment to act in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community around the world,” said Matt Beard, executive director of All Out.
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