Zorlu Performing Arts Center Hosting Boston Gay Men’s Chorus is Facing Pressure to Cancel Performance in the name of “Public Morals”

Update [14 May 2015]: Zorlu Performing Arts Center will not be hosting the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. BGMC is looking for a new venue to host them.

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, which was scheduled to perform on June 27th, one day before the Istanbul Pride Parade, is facing pressure to cancel. The concert venue, Zorlu Performing Arts Center, has suspended ticket sales for the event.

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Boston Eşcinsel Erkek Korosu’na ‘genel ahlak’ engeli!” (“Obstruction to Boston Gay Men’s Chorus in the name of ‘Public Morals’”) KaosGL.org, 8 May 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19373

Obstruction to Boston Gay Men’s Chorus in the Name of “Public Morals”

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus was scheduled to perform on June 27th in Istanbul, one day before the LGBTI pride. However, pressure from homophobic media against the concert and boycott call against Zorlu Holding, owner of the concert venue, resulted in the suspension of ticket sales to the event.

Executive Director of the Chorus: We have an ongoing contract. Reports of Cancellation are not true

Executive director of the chorus Craig Coogan told kaosGL.org that they have an ongoing contract with Zorlu Performance Arts Center and news of a cancellation was not true. [Coogan also announced that “on Wednesday, May 13, our representatives from ACFEA Tour Consultants will be meeting with the Zorlu Organization and Performance Center to clear up any miscommunication” in the BGMC statement.]

The campaign to cancel the concert on change.org claims that the mission of the chorus is to “legitimize and spread homosexuality,” whereas the chorus director in his interview with Kaos GL Magazine had explained their mission was “to knock down the walls of prejudice with music.”

The Campaign Does not Fit Change.org’s Community Guidelines

The campaign on change.org, which aims to persuade Zorlu Holding and the Ministry of Family and Social Policies into cancelling the concert while targeting the LGBTI community, does not fit the community guidelines set forth by change.org.

“No hate speech – We’re fans of free speech, but we don’t allow hate speech. Hate speech is typically the advocacy of beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people based on characteristics such as their age, color, disability, ethnic origin, gender identity, nationality, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, medical condition, or veteran status.”

Zorlu PSM* Suspends Ticket Sales

Zorlu PSM has not made any public statements regarding the suspension of ticket sales but information regarding the concert has been deleted from the venue’s website. Ticket sales out of Biletix are ongoing.

Vahdet Newspaper, a well-known producer of hate speech against the LGBTI community, had targeted the chorus, Zorlu Holding and Kaos GL Association in its excerpt titled “Perversion Runs Free.”

“I am worried about Pride Week”

Madır Öktiş, an LGBTI activist looking forward to the concert, has stated that the news has got them worried about pride week.

“When I woke up today to a news item called ‘GAY CONCERT AT ZORLU CANCELLED’ talking about Turkey being a Muslim country, the month of Ramadan and the chairman of the company not being aware of the concert; I was rightly furious as I understood how such an unprofessional decision could be made.”

“The intervention with this performance which takes place on Pride Week, which I and my queer friends were looking forward to seeing, has led me to be concerned about the fate of future pride week events or any other activity that has to do with the LGBTI community. I am hoping my concerns are needless and I wish that the organizers of the event would ensure that the concert take place in a new venue away from all phobias.”

“Bosphorus University’s doors are always open”

Bosphorus University LGBTI Studies Club has made a press statement saying that their school’s doors are always open to the chorus in the case of the concert’s cancellation in its original venue and added, “Freedom will always prevail against pressure from hateful, discriminating and censoring minds.”

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