Miss Universe 2021: the shocking protest messages of Miss Uruguay, Miss Myanmar and Miss Singapore

(CNN) — The Miss Universe 2021 stage was lit up with colorful protests as contestants from Singapore, Uruguay and Myanmar took to the spotlight to display messages on political and social issues.

During the “national costume” segment of the annual competition, which concluded Sunday in Florida, the three contestants revealed messages that alluded to anti-Asian hatred, discrimination against LGBTQ communities and the ongoing political crisis in Myanmar.

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In one of the pageant’s most dramatic moments, Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong walked the runway in an outfit inspired by the colors of Singapore’s national flag before turning around to unveil a call to “Stop Hate Asians”.

Miss Uruguay, Lola de los Santos, showed her support for LGBTQ communities with a rainbow outfit and a skirt that read in English: “No more hate, violence, rejection, discrimination.”

Instead of wearing her dress to carry her message, Miss Myanmar, Thuzar Wint Lwin, revealed hers on a small scroll. Taking to the stage in an intricately embroidered and beaded outfit, she bowed to the audience before revealing a call for viewers to “pray” for her country.

This is not the first time that Thuzar Wint Lwin has expressed solidarity with protesters who oppose Myanmar’s military junta, which seized power in a coup in February.

With violence erupting across the country, more than 700 protesters have been killed and thousands more have been arrested, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. In March, the beauty queen took to Instagram to honor the protesters as “heroes who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for the freedom of our people,” having previously accused the Myanmar military of human rights abuses.

After the “national costume” segment, which she won, Thuzar Wint Lwin posted an image of herself holding the protest sign along with the caption “Brave Empress.”

Singaporean contestant Ong also posted a series of pictures of her outfit on Instagram, saying it was her responsibility to “send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence” directed at Asians.

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The protest comes amid a surge in anti-Asian sentiment around the world. Researchers at California State University, San Bernardino, recently reported a 164% increase in hate crimes against Asians in 16 of the largest cities and counties in the United States.

Ong’s sparkly bodysuit, complete with puff sleeves and thigh-high boots, was made by Filipino designers Arwin Meriales and Paulo Pilapil Espinosa in just two days, she wrote on Instagram.

Uruguayan De los Santos, who paired her bold rainbow outfit with a floral crown and black boots, has long been a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights.

In addition to frequently posting solidarity messages on social media, she was a judge at Miss Trans Star Uruguay, a beauty pageant for transgender women.

Mexican contestant Andrea Meza was crowned the overall winner of this year’s Miss Universe, which took place in Hollywood, Florida.

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