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Türkiye's Erdoğan claims Eurovision contestants threaten family values

Erdoğan and Nemo
Erdoğan and Nemo Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Jonny Walfisz with AP
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And it’s nil points from Türkiye to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest Winner as the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed the event threatened traditional family values.

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Last weekend, Swiss singer Nemo convincingly won Eurovision with their song ‘The Code’. Nemo earned the lion’s share of the jury vote and fifth in the public vote for their operatic vocal melodies and impressive performance atop a rotating platform.

Nemo also made history at the 68th Eurovision Song Contest as the first non-binary contestant to win, an important moment for an event that has long championed LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion.

While Nemo’s victory sparked celebrations in the Malmö arena and around the world, one world leader was less than pleased with their historic win.

Türkiye president gave a speech after a cabinet meeting on Monday in which he described the contest’s participants as the “Trojan horses of social corruption”.

In 2013, when he was the country’s prime minister, Erdoğan faced an a financial corruption scandal when 52 people related to his ruling party, including three of his cabinet ministers, were arrested in raids over $100 billion. Erdoğan has since rounded up journalists before they published articles questioning his links to social corruption.

Nemo won Eurovision for their joyful and impressive performance
Nemo won Eurovision for their joyful and impressive performanceMartin Meissner/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Erdoğan went on to say the government was right to keep the country out of the pan-European competition since 2012.

Before that, Türkiye took part in the contest 34 times and even won in 2003 when Sertab Erener performed ‘Everyway That I Can’. They then hosted the 2004 contest in Istanbul.

At such events, it has become impossible to meet a normal person,” claimed the president, whose ruling Justice and Development Party finds its roots in Türkiye’s Islamic movement and whose government has grown less tolerant of LGBTQ+ rights in recent years.

“We understand better how we made the right decision by keeping Türkiye out of this disgraceful competition for the past 12 years,” he said. Since pulling out of the contest in 2014, the country has criticised the event for its representation, citing Conchita Wurst’s participation and victory that year.

Erdoğan on Monday also decried a serious decline in birth rates in Türkiye as an “existential threat” and a “disaster” for the country.

Last week, Türkiye’s State Statistical Institute announced that the country’s birth rate in 2023 had dropped to 1.51 children per woman.

The Turkish leader has long called on families to have at least three children.

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