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Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 16:37 GMT
Transvestite Sisters stir Eurovision storm
Slovene Eurovision entry- The Sisters
The Sisters: High heels and red lipstick
Slovenia is in uproar over the choice of a song performed by a gay transvestite group to represent the country in the Eurovision song contest.

The rainbow flag in Ljubjlana
Gay activists carry the rainbow flag
The ensuing row has now reached the European Parliament, where there have been expressions of concern.

Since 17 February when Sestre, or Sisters as the trio call themselves, won the Slovene Eurosong competition, the whole country has been divided.

There have been protests in the capital, Ljubjlana, with anti-gay and gay activists taking to the streets, and questions have been asked in the national parliament.

That the issue of gay rights is coming up, confirms to us that, perhaps, Slovenia is not yet ready for EU membership

Lousewies van der Laan
The three men at the centre of the controversy - Miss Marlenna, Daphne and Emperatrizz - performed the song Only Love in bright red air stewardess costumes, high heels and red lipstick.

The decision caused a furore from the outset as the judges overruled the public phone vote and chose Sisters by a tiny majority on points.

After a decision not to rerun the competion, despite widespread calls for a repeat, a number of Slovene deputies alerted the European parliament.

Human rights record

Lousewies van der Laan of the European Parliament Public Liberties and Civic Rights Committee told Slovene TV she was shocked when she heard of the public debate.

Karmen Stavec won second place behind the Sisters
Runner-up Karmen Stavec will not compete again

"I was very shocked to learn that in Slovenia there is again a debate relating to sexual minorities. That the issue of gay rights is coming up, confirms to us that, perhaps, Slovenia is not yet ready for EU membership," she said.

Recent polls show that the majority of the public still want the runner-up in the Slovene Eurosong competition, Karmen Stavec to represent the country with 59.9% of the vote. The sisters only polled 18.1%.

One woman told Slovene TV: "This is a disgrace, they (Sisters) cannot stand for us in Europe".

Gay trio Sisters celebrate Eurosong win
The Sisters have kept a low profile since their win
Most of the country's two million inhabitants are Roman Catholics.

But the country's gay community has rallied to support the group.

A Slovene psychologist also told TV that the lack of support for the Sister's song had less to do with their artistic expression, and more with the nation's widespread homophobia.

But the Sisters - who have been keeping a low profile - seem determined to sing at the Eurovision Song Contest in Estonia in May.

Slovenian TV
'Sisters' celebrate after winning the Eurovision selection for Slovenia
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