Saturday, May 9, 2015

Major Istanbul Performing Arts center cancels event in Homophobic Move

 "Major scandal! [They] are coming to Turkey during Ramadan to spread Homosexuality!"

Earlier this week, on the twitter waves, a homophobic news story hit the headlines. According to the Ihlas News Agency, an American gay chorus was set to come to Turkey to perform on stage, as well as to participate in Istanbul’s annual Gay Pride march. According to the press report, the real aim of the group was to “spread homosexuality.” Even worse, this was set to happen during the Holy Month of Ramadan. 

The story's source was the official press release of an conservative Islamic women's group, BILKA, that released an official statement concerning the event (which was featured in its entirety in the IHA story). The press release is filled with homophobic hate speech that warns of the imminent damage their visit could cause, and that they are expecting "serious steps to be taken to save Turkey from such sin." It did not take no time at all for the pro-government press to pick up on this. and to spread even more hateful headlines:

           "The Perverted Chorus is Coming to Turkey"

Pro-gov Yeni Akit's Headline

It seems that the women's group most likely learned of the event from earlier press reports. In an article on March 24, one of Turkey's major newspaper, Hurriyet, ran an upbeat story about the upcoming Boston Gay Men's Chorus' planned trip. In the story, it quotes Reuben Reynolds, the music director, as saying, "this is our first trip to Turkey and the first time to perform in a Muslim country." When asked by the reporter if he was worried about the reactions, since "in this geographical region homosexuality is not the most accepted thing," Reynolds replied that, "our only goal is to promote our music and to entertain people, not to promote gay life."

Well, news has just come in today that the concert has been cancelled. According to the liberal-left news site Diken, Zorlu Performing Arts removed the event form their site, and also has refused to comment on the cancellation. However, according to the pro-government press it was cancelled by Zorlu Holding's CEO, Ahmet Nafiz Zorlu, who was unaware of the event. It is also reported that the losses will be covered by Zorlu as well. Clearly, Zorlu had caved into the hates speech of the conservative and pro-government media campaign. This is unfortunate since the Zorlu Performing Arts Center has recently prided itself as the top venue for international events.

In the mean time, I have contacted the PR representative of the Boston Gay Men's Chorus and will update this story if she answers my email. Here is a link to the Chorus' original press release related to their upcoming Istanbul trip, which they were going to visit following concerts to be held in Israel. 

The Chorus has issued a press statement in English and Turkish, pressing forward that they will be performing at the Zorlu Center. According to the statement: "On Wednesday, May 13, our representatives from ACFEA Tour Consultants will be meeting with Zorlu Organization and Performance Center to clear up any miscommunication.

With Istanbul's Gay Pride growing every year with protesters from among the local LGBT groups and ones showing solidarity, it seems that the cancellation of the event will only strengthen them to raise their voices against homophobia in Turkey (and beyond). On a cynical note, from the picture below, I think it is clear that the fear that the Boston Gay Men's Chorus will spread homosexuality is a bit exaggerated. Let us hope that in the near future arrangements will be made for the event to take place at an alternative place.

Here is a link to last year's Istanbul's Gay Pride, for those interested in learning more..... 


  1. To deprive the people of hearing their wonderful gift by giving in to hysteria is WRONG. If you don't like it, don't attend..but don't deny the rest of the people..!!

  2. This was my second time attending an event at this place, and was my first business event here (the other event was a charity show). Everything at the best birthday party bar nyc was perfect, the drinks and food was amazing. Even the coffee was wonderful.