Head of Turkey’s public broadcaster gives ‘Bearded Diva’ as reason for boycotting Eurovision

İbrahim Eren, the head of Turkey’s public broadcaster, has cited “someone like the bearded Austrian who wore a skirt” as one of the main reasons for Ankara’s ongoing boycott of Eurovision, apparently referring to Conchita, who won the international song contest in 2014.

İbrahim Eren

“We aren’t considering rejoining the contest. We have reasons, such as the voting system. As a public broadcaster, we also cannot broadcast live at 9 p.m., when children are still awake, someone like the bearded Austrian who wore a skirt, does not believe in gender and says he is both a man and a woman,” state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation’s (TRT) General Manager Eren said during panel discussion at a İbn Haldun University in İstanbul on Saturday, according to a report by the Hürriyet Daily News.

Turkey has not participated in Eurovision since 2012 in protest of changes in the contest’s voting system that introduced a 50/50 jury and televoting deliberation, as well as the “Big Five” rule that allows Spain, Italy, the UK, France and Germany to automatically qualify every year for the final.

It was speculated last year that Turkey could soon return to the European competition. While refuting this speculation on Sunday, Eren also cited another reason for Turkey’s decision to boycott the event.

“I have told the European Broadcasting Union [EBU] on the Eurovision issue that they had deviated from their values. As a result, other countries also left Eurovision. There is mental chaos at the EBU because of its executives. If they can fix it, we can join Eurovision again,” Eren added.

The “bearded diva” Conchita, formerly known as Conchita Wurst, won the Eurovision song contest in 2014 for her song “Rise Like a Phoenix.” The 29-year-old Austrian is a recording artist and drag performer portrayed by Thomas Neuwirth.

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