Opening act of Eurovision Song Contest in 2011
Turkey has refused to take part in next year’s the Eurovision Song Contest because the event will include LGBTI performers.
Critics have said the move is a part of the Turkish authorities’ attempt to ‘erase the LGBT community’ in the country, Reuters reported.
Turkey has not participated in the annual music competition since 2012.
Ibrahim Eren, head of the country’s state broadcaster Turkish Radio Television (TRT), said that it was not appropriate to broadcast a show featuring LGBTI performers to a mass audience.
‘As a public broadcaster we cannot broadcast live at 9pm, when children are watching, an Austrian with a beard and a skirt, who claims not to have a gender and says “I am a man and a woman at the same time”,’ Eren said.
Eren’s reference was to Austrian singer and drag queen Conchita Wurst who won the contest in May 2014, and is famous for preforming in drag while having a close-cropped beard.
‘First they banned Pride in 2015, then the film festival in Ankara and now Eurovision,’ said London-based journalist, Musa Igrek. ‘It’s an attempt to erase the LGBT community within Turkey.’
Clampdowns on the LGBTI community
Turkey’s recored of LGBTI rights is notoriously poor, and LGBTI people in Turkey experience widespread abuse and discrimination.
In a recent ILGA-Europe poll of LGBTI rights of 49 countries in Europe and Western Asia, Turkey was placed three places from the bottom of the list of countries polled. Only Armenia and Azerbaijan were further down the list.
While homosexuality is not illegal, the country has seen crackdowns on the LGBTI community under the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Recep Erdogan. Authorities have banned Pride events around the country for the past several years.
In July, police stormed a Istanbul Pride march, firing rubber bullets and teargas into the crowd and arresting dozens. The police clampdown happened despite the Pride march oragizers reaching a last-minute agreement with the authorities for the march to go ahead.