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Turkey's Eurovision boycott to continue, as it's 'unsuitable for kids'

Turkey's broadcasting chief alluded to Conchita Wurst in the interview [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 August, 2018

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Turkey will continue its boycott of the Eurovision song contests, citing conservative factors in the decision.

Turkey will continue to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest, with the head of the country's broadcaster saying on Saturday the coverage of the competition is unsuitable for children.

Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) head Ibrahim Eren cited the victory of an Austrian drag queen in 2014 as the reason for the boycott.

Turkey has stayed out of the kitsch singing competition since 2012, over a dispute regarding the voting system.

Eren said that although that was still in an issue, there were also moral qualms about the contest.

"We are not thinking about taking part at the moment," he said, quoted by state-run Anadolu news agency.

"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'," the TRT chief said.

This was a reference to Austrian "drag queen" Conchita Wurst who won the 2014 edition.

"There is some kind of confusion of mentality here," Eren said. Once this is corrected we will return to Eurovision."

He said other countries have backed Turkey's decision.

Many young Turks are concerned by the creeping conservatism in what it is one of the countries more tolerant to LGBTI rights in the Islamic world.

Yet Turkey has banned all the last editions of the annual gay pride march in Istanbul, under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

TRT had said it would return to the competition in 2016 as most of Turkey's concerns - including over "a lack of moral standards" - have been addressed, although this never happened. 

Turkey has criticised the Big-5 ruling, which states that the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are guaranteed a place in the final.

Sertab Erener, a Turkish pop diva, came first in the contest in 2003 and the 2004 edition was then held in Istanbul.

Turkey's last entry was from singer Can Bonomo who placed seventh in 2012 with the song "Love Me Back".

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