Turkey won’t return to Eurovision because of LGBT contestants

Turkey has ruled out a return to the Eurovision Song Contest until the show bans LGBT+ contestants.

The country was a staple at the pan-European music contest from 1975 up until 2012, when it abruptly withdrew citing disagreements with the rules.

In 2013, Finland’s entry Krista Siegfrids kissed a female backing dancer on stage as an equal marriage protest during her track Marry Me, which allegedly promted Turkey to scrap all broadcasts of the competition entirely.

2013 Finnish Eurovision entrant Krista Siegfrids gets mock-married to a woman onstage during her performance (JOHN MACDOUGALL/Getty)

Turkey has ruled out a return ever since, and this week TV bosses again confirmed the country would not be participating in 2019.

Ibrahim Eren, who runs Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), cited the show’s 2014 winner Conchita Wurst – an Austrian drag artist – as inappropriate to be broadcast on TV.

According to The New Arab, he said: “We are not thinking about taking part at the moment.

“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’.

“There is some kind of confusion of mentality here… once this is corrected we will return to Eurovision.”

It is legal to be gay in Turkey but the LGBT community faces high levels of public stigma and oppression that has worsened under President Erdoğan.

Conchita Wurst (Thomas Lohnes/Getty)

Police in Istanbul have used tear gas and rubber bullets to forcibly disperse attempts to hold LGBT+ events in the city, while the capital city of Ankara has enforced an outright ban on LGBT+ events.

There have been plenty of LGBT+ moments at Eurovision over the years to enrage censors, with Russia and China both clashing with organisers over gay content.

During Eurovision 2018, a Chinese broadcaster was stripped of the rights to air the contest after censoring the performance of Ireland’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy – whose featured a same-sex dance couple.

China’s Mango TV allegedly blurred out rainbow flags being waved by people in the crowd at the event elsewhere in the show.

The European Broadcasting Union registered its objection by stripping Mango TV of its rights to the contest.

Ireland’s entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest (EBU)

After Conchita Wurst’s win in 2014, Russian lawmakers called for the country to drop out of the ‘Eurovision Sodom show’.

Russian lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, who masterminded the country’s ‘gay propaganda law’,called for Russia to withdraw from the contest due to its gay content.

Milonov labelled the contest the “Eurovision sodom show”, saying: “Even just broadcasting the competition in Russia could insult millions of Russians.

“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.”