Netflix slammed as ‘Islam’s enemy’ by bigots over rumours of gay character in Turkish teen drama
Rumours of a gay character on a Turkish Netflix series have fuelled anti-LGBT bigotry in the country.
New Turkish coming-of-age drama Love 101, which is set to begin on April 24, unleashed a torrent of fury over unconfirmed rumours that it will feature a gay character.
It’s technically legal to be gay in Turkey, but LGBT+ people in the country have few legal rights and face extreme stigma – with Pride parades still often brutally repressed by police.
The Love 101 rumours have fuelled a homophobic moral panic in the country.
Turkish TV watchdog says country ‘will not tolerate’ gay character on Netflix show
According to Reuters, the president of the Radio and Television Supreme Council Ebubekir Sahin made clear: “We will not tolerate broadcasts that are contrary to the national and spiritual values of our society.”
Online, posts have racked up thousands of likes accusing Netflix of “trying to normalise immorality”, branding the streaming giant “Islam’s enemy” for airing the show during Ramadan,
Netflix – which has championed LGBT+ representation in many of its releases – has not confirmed or denied reports about the show, but has warned of “misinformation” spreading online.
The streaming giant told Turkish media: “A lot of false information is spreading from fake accounts… believe only what you hear from us about the series and the characters, not the rumours.”
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An official release states of the show: “Set primarily in 1998, with present day vignettes that frame each episode, LOVE 101 follows a group of 17-year-old misfits who set their mind on keeping their favourite teacher in town, so that they can stay in school.
“They plot for her to fall in love with the new basketball coach, but in doing so they don’t realize that they are actually discovering love themselves.
“Through this journey they will learn they have more in common than they know, are stronger together than they are apart and that love can’t be manufactured.”
Plenty of people want better LGBT+ representation in Turkey
While the show has faced a homophobic backlash, plenty of Turks on social media are crying out for better LGBT+ representation.
One wrote: “i wasn’t planning on watching this show but homophobes were so loud and got me interested in the show. thank u a**holes for free publicity”.
Another added: “Netflix Turkey said gay rights. And the homophobes stay mad”.
But homophobia in the country is no joke. In June 2019, police clad in riot gear fired tear gas at Istanbul Pride marchers to disrupt the event, marking the fifth year the event has been prevented from going ahead.