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LGBT activists accused of ‘bullying’ Ireland’s Eurovision entrant

Patrick Kelleher April 22, 2019
LGBT activists urge Ireland’s Eurovision entrant to boycott contest

Sarah McTernan, Ireland's Eurovision entrant (Lili Forberg/RTÉ)

LGBT+ activists in Ireland have been accused of “bullying” the country’s Eurovision entrant Sarah McTernan.

The Ireland Israel Alliance (IIA) has said they were “saddened by the bullying Sarah McTernan continues to receive” after LGBT+ activists urged her to pull out of Eurovision as a part of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign last week.

Campaigners called on her to pull out of the contest over the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict, which pro-Palestinian campaigners say has resulted in an apartheid regime in the country.

The Ireland Israel Alliance said LGBT+ activists were entering ‘an alternative reality’

However, the IIA has hit back at LGBT+ activists who called on McTernan to boycott Eurovision. In an open letter, the group said:  “We believe that in publicly targeting Sarah, and in attempting to pressurise her into not participating, the letters’ signatories have devalued the battle fought by the gay community, and others in Israel, for recognition of their rights and for respect for difference.”

They accused LGBT+ activists who had called on McTernan to boycott of entering “an alternative reality,” and said they were refusing to acknowledge progress in LGBT+ rights in Israel.

The group also hit out at the BDS campaign—which encourages boycotts against Israel due to the ongoing conflict—and said: “We believe that not only does the BDS Movement exemplify the attempt by the Palestinian leadership to destroy the peace process and associated joint initiatives, it simultaneously hurts the lives and livelihoods of many thousands of ordinary Palestinians.

“We believe that in publicly targeting Sarah, and in attempting to pressurise her into not participating, the letters’ signatories have devalued the battle fought by the gay community.”

– Ireland Israel Alliance

“This campaign entirely ignores that Eurovision is an international cultural event that celebrates diversity and equality. It also ignores the fact that the song contest is being held this year in Israel because of votes casts by millions of viewers, which resulted in Netta Barzilai winning last year’s contest.”

LGBT activists urge Ireland’s Eurovision entrant to boycott contest
Sarah McTernan, Ireland’s Eurovision entrant (Lili Forberg/RTÉ (Courtesy of Eurovision)

“They really should stop bullying a young, talented Irish singer and attempting to make her a target for the type of public shaming and derision that so many gay people wrongly suffered in Ireland in past decades, and some still suffer today,” the letter ends.

The letter was co-signed by 10 people, which included Ireland’s former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

Eurovision: LGBT+ activists in Ireland accused Israel of ‘pinkwashing’

Last week, LGBT+ activists in Ireland signed an open letter to McTernan in which they urged her to pull out of the Eurovision Song Contest as a part of the BDS movement.

“We feel we must write to you to express our deep concern at the political use of the Eurovision that is being made by Israel this year, and to highlight in particular the issue of ‘Pinkwashing,’” the letter reads.

The letter says that ‘pinkwashing’ is a “PR tactic used by Israel which cynically exploits support for LGBTQIA people to whitewash its oppression of the Palestinian people.”

The open letter argues that Israel is attempting to ingratiate itself with LGBT+ people in an attempt to distract from its “colonial and apartheid reality.”

A spokesperson for the campaign to boycott Eurovision, Zoe Lawlor, told the Irish Independent: “All we are doing is asking Sarah to be aware of the situation in Gaza and the atrocities happening to the Palestinian people on a daily basis.”

“It’s totally up to her how she’s going to respond, but sending an open letter definitely doesn’t constitute as bullying.

“We congratulate how far this young singer has got, and it seems like she has a very promising career ahead of her.”

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