Turkey cancels Eurovision Song Contest over lesbian kiss

Gay activists are claiming Turkey’s official television channel will not show the annual competition over Finland’s entry standing up for marriage equality

16 MAY 2013 | BY JOE MORGAN, DAN LITTAUER
Turkey has allegedly canceled showing the Eurovision Song Contest over fears there will be a lesbian kiss on stage.

Photo by Richard Frost/Gay Star News.

Turkey will not be showing Eurovision Song Contest 2013 over alleged fears there will be a lesbian kiss shown this week.

Finland’s entry, Krista Siegfrids, is expected to kiss one of her female dancers on stage during her performance at the semi-finals tonight (16 May) in Malmö, Sweden.

If Europe votes Finland through to the Grand Final (18 May), she will perform the same routine with an expected audience of over 60 million people.

When she spoke to Gay Star News, she said kissing a woman on stage is a statement in support of marriage equality in Finland and across the world.

Turkey’s TRT, the official television channel, first said they will broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest despite the country not taking part this year.

Following outraged reports in Turkish media of Siegfrids kissing a woman in rehearsals and warm-up gigs, gay activists are claiming this is what made TRT cancel Eurovision.

On TRT’s website, they say the ‘ratings will be too low’ to warrant showing the competition. Last year, one in four Turkish people tuned in to watch the show.

Ömer Akpinar, media coordinator for Turkey’s main LGBT rights charity, KAOS GL, told Gay Star News TRT is ‘using the excuse of ratings’ to hide their ‘institutionalized homophobia’.

He said: ‘In Turkish TV channels, the visibility of LGBT people is blocked by a controlling institution called Radio and Television Hig Commission. Warnings and punishments discourage TV stations to cover LGBT issues.

‘Prevention of freedom of expression has been institutionalized by the current Justice Development Party (AKP) controlled government.’

Akpinar said despite gay rights organizations strengthening in recent years, the AKP are objecting to include sexual orientation and gender identity in a new anti-discrimination bill.

During the London Olympics 2012 opening ceremony, a lesbian kiss was shown around the world including Turkey. It was the first time for many countries a same-sex kiss was screened on television.

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