Olly Alexander calls for ‘immediate’ Gaza ceasefire amid Eurovision boycott calls

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO PUBLICATIONS DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE ARTIST) Olly Alexander attends The BRIT Awards 2024 at The O2 Arena on March 2, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Olly Alexander has joined other Eurovision stars in calling for an “immediate and lasting” ceasefire in Gaza amid the ongoing Israel–Hamas war.

In recent weeks, the Years & Years frontman and It’s A Sin star, who is set to represent the UK in Malmö with his track “Dizzy”, has faced calls from some to boycott the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest over of the participation of Israel in the competition.

Earlier this week, more than 450 queer artists, public figures and organisations signing an open letter calling on him to withdraw.

An attack on southern Israel by Hamas on 7 October led to the deaths of more than 1,200 people and triggered the ongoing war in Gaza. The conflict has resulted in more than 30,000 estimated Palestinians deaths. 

The disqualification of states due to conflict is not without precedent: In 2022, Russia was banned from competing at Eurovision after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine earlier that year.

In a statement shared on social media, Olly Alexander and other 2024 Eurovision acts, including Ireland’s non-binary artist, Bambie Thug, said they “acknowledge the privilege of taking part in Eurovision”.

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“In light of the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and particularly in Gaza, and in Isreal, we do not feel comfortable being silent,” the group.

“It is important to us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and communicate our heartfelt wish for peace, an immediate and lasting ceasefire, and the safe return of all hostages.

“We stand united against all forms of hate, including antisemitism and islamophobia.”

They continued: “We firmly believe in the unifying power of music, enabling people to transcend differences and foster meaningful conversations and connections.”

The group concluded their statement by saying they feel it their “duty” to “create and uphold this space, with a strong hope that it will inspire greater compassion and empathy”.

In the letter addressing Alexander and calling for him to withdraw, the group – called Queers for Palestine – wrote: “We share the vision of queer joy and abundance you’ve offered through your music, and share your belief in collective liberation for all. In this spirit, we ask you to heed the Palestinian call to withdraw from Eurovision…”

In a separate post, Alexander explained that he had “respect” for those who will be boycotting the Eurovision Song Contest this year, and stressed his view that leaving the contest would not “bring us any closer” to an “end to the atrocities we are seeing taking place in Gaza”.

“I wholeheartedly support action being taken to demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the return of all hostages and the safety and security of all civilians in Palestine and Israel,” he wrote.

“I know some people will choose to boycott this year’s Eurovision and I understand and respect their decision.

“As a participant l’ve taken a lot of time to deliberate over what to do and the options available to me. It is my current belief that removing myself from the contest wouldn’t bring us any closer to our shared goal.”

He shared that he, and other Eurovision contestants, believed that by taking part in the contest they could use the platform to “call for peace”.

He rounded off his statement by thanking the artists who signed the open letter from Queers for Palestine.

Alexander’s call for a ceasefire comes two weeks on from Renée Rapp’s calls for the same at the GLAAD Media Awards.

“We’re in a room of very influential people, and very privileged people, which is exciting and also is a huge privilege to be a part of that”, the Mean Girls star said upon accepting her Outstanding Music Artist award.

“Having said that, I’d like to take the opportunity to show support and call for an immediate ceasefire and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.”

She concluded: “Please continue to advocate for yourselves, continue to advocate for your friends, for your queer friends, and for those who can’t advocate for themselves, thanks.”