Netflix Cancels Show After Authorities Refuse Filming Permission Over Gay Character
Netflix has cancelled one of its original shows after authorities put pressure on the company to remove a gay character.
In March, the streaming service announced it was working on a new Turkish series titled If Only; an eight-part relationship drama set to be made by production outfit Ay Yapim.
Starring Özge Özpirinçci, the series was due to focus on an unhappily married woman who is transported back in time to the moment her husband proposed.
Producers requested a filming licence so they could get the show on the road, but local authorities are said to have refused to grant the license because If Only featured a gay character.
Authorities put pressure on Netflix to remove the character, despite the fact there were no gay sex scenes or even physical contact between the man and any other characters, but the streaming service decided to abandon the project on the eve of filming rather than giving in to creative changes.
The show’s creator, Ece Yörenç, made a statement on the matter to the Turkish film website Altyazi Fasikul, explaining:
Due to a gay character, permission to film the series was not granted and this is very frightening for the future.
Mahir Unal, a spokesperson for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, acknowledged on Sunday, July 19 that concerns were raised about If Only.
Per the Financial Times, he commented:
Must we collectively apologise to Netflix? What do they want from us? Do we have to bless everything Netflix makes, find it proper and sanctify it? Is there no subject where we have a right to raise reservations?
A Netflix spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the matter directly, but told Deadline the company remains ‘deeply committed’ to its ‘Turkish members and the creative community in Turkey’.
The spokesperson added:
We are proud of the incredible talent we work with. We currently have several Turkish originals in production — with more to come — and look forward to sharing these stories with our members all around the world.
In 2019, Digital Spy reported that streaming services have more LGBTQ+ characters among their shows than all major US networks combined, and the previous year LGBTQ+ organisation GLAAD reported that Netflix was leading the way with the most LGBTQ+ characters.
Netflix originals such as Elite, Sex Education, The Haunting of Hill House and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have all celebrated the LGBTQ+ community, and If Only indicates the company is striving to keep up the representation in its shows across the globe.
It’s unclear whether Netflix will make any further effort to challenge the authorities’ refusal to give them a filming licence.
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