Austrian singer was victorious at annual singing competition in Copenhagen on Saturday (May 10)

Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst has said she hopes her Eurovision victory helps spread a message of tolerance and respect around Europe.

Wurst, real name Tom Neuwirth, was crowned winner of the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night (May 10). The following day she arrived back in Vienna and told reporters that the victory was not just personal, “but a victory for those people who believe in a future that can function without discrimination and is based on tolerance and respect”.

The singer won the competition in Denmark capital Copenhagen with the song ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’, collecting 290 points. The Netherlands finished second with 238 points, with Sweden in third place with 218 points. After being crowned winner at the ceremony, Wurst shouted: “We are unity and we are unstoppable”.

In Vienna, she explained: “That was obviously meant for certain politicians whom we all know”. Asked if she was talking about Vladimir Putin, whose anti-gay laws in Russia have come under fierce criticism, Wurst said “among others”

On the theme of tolerance, The Guardian reports Wurst told reporters in the Austrian capital: “This will remain an issue for a long time and I fear I won’t see the end of it in my lifetime. It will be my life’s worth and I gladly take it on”.

The Austrian president, Heinz Fischer, praised Wurst and said her triumph was “not just a victory for Austria, but above all for diversity and tolerance in Europe”.

The UK’s Molly Smitten-Downes came 17th, with 40 points for her song ‘Children Of The Universe’.