Turkey Dumps 2019 Eurovision in Israel over Trans Performers

Conchita Wurst performs on stage during rehearsals for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 on May 22, 2015 in Vienna, Austria. The final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 will take place on May 23, 2015. (Photo by Nigel Treblin/Getty Images)
Nigel Treblin/Getty

Turkey will boycott the 2019 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel because of what it calls a “confusion in mentality” that allows “an Austrian with a beard and skirt” to participate.

Gay and transgender performers such as bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst have been part of the Eurovision lineup for many years. In 1998, Israeli entrant Dana International became the first transgender performer to win the contest.

Now Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) head Ibrahim Eren reveals Turkey is unlikely to join next year because the spectacle features LGBT singers.

The country has not participated in the longest-running international annual TV music competition since 2012.

“We are not thinking about taking part at the moment,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“As a public broadcaster we cannot broadcast live at 9:00 pm, 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’,” he said.

This was an apparent reference to Conchita Wurst’s win in 2014.

“There is some kind of confusion of mentality here,” Eren said, arguing Turkey’s stance was backed by other countries. “Once this is corrected we will return to Eurovision.”

Eren’s comments provoked dismay among Turks living in Britain.

“It’s a chain of events,” Musa Igrek, a London-based journalist, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“First they banned Pride in 2015, then the film festival in Ankara and now Eurovision. It’s an attempt to erase the LGBT community within Turkey.”

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