AUSTRIAN drag queen Conchita Wurst has won the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, with a song called Rise Like a Phoenix that significantly won over the voting public of western Europe.

Wurst, the alter ego of Tom Neuwirth, took the Eurovision crown in Copenhagen despite initial expectations that her bearded appearance would prove too controversial in many socially-conservative European countries.

“We are unity, and we are unstoppable,” Wurst said after winning the competition.

Eurovision stated that Wurst won the competition with 290 points, with Austria’s closest rival being that of The Common Linnets from The Netherlands with 238 points.

According to the Eurovision websiteWurst came into existence in 2011, when the 25-year-old Neuwirth decided to create a symbol for tolerance and artistic freedom in Austria. Since then, Wurst’s motto has reportedly been “be the best version of yourself rather than a bad copy of someone else”

A representative from Austria’s national public broadcaster Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF) also stated on Eurovision’s official website that Wurst’s victory was going to have a profound impact on both Austria and Europe.

“We are very proud to host the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna next year,” the broadcaster said.

“We have waited for 48 years to host the contest again after our only victory in 1966. Austria has become more open tonight, and we are very glad that this openness has been seen and accepted by Europe.”

Wurst’s victory is the second time that Austria has won the Eurovision Song Contest, but not the first time a trans*-identifying individual has won. In 1998, Israeli trans-woman Dana International, who had gender reassignment, won the Eurovision Song Contest with her hit song Diva.

While Wurst was viewed as a rank outsider for victory as recently as Thursday of last week, this quickly changed after it became public knowledge across western Europe that the performer’s appearance at Eurovision had provoked petitions in eastern European nations such as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Throughout the lead-up to the competition, Wurst was also the target of transphobic comments from both both fellow competitors and politicians alike, with the principal legislator of Russia’s new anti-LGBTI laws, Vitaly Milinov calling Wurst a pervert and the 2014 edition of Eurovision a “sodom show”.

“The participation of the obvious transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst on the same stage as Russian singers on live television is blatant propaganda of homosexuality and spiritual decay,” Milonov stated.

According to the UK newspaper The Independent, Wurst stated in response to Milinov’s remarks that the level of public support that she has received from eastern Europe outweighs the transphobia that she’s experienced from the former Soviet bloc.

“It’s strange that a little facial hair causes that much excitement. I have to add that 80 per cent of autograph requests I get are from Russia and eastern Europe – and that’s what is important to me.”

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