Netflix has confirmed the cancellation of an original Turkish series after local authorities across the country demanded the removal of a gay character.
The platform decided to abandon Turkish production of “ If Only ” instead of giving in to government complaints about its immorality.
Turkish screenwriter Ece Yorenc, who wrote the script for the series, revealed that the drama was canceled last week just before filming because the government refused to grant a license.
“Due to a gay character, permission to film the series was not granted and it is very scary for the future,” she told Turkish news site Altyazi Fasikul.
Netflix insisted on Monday it remained “deeply engaged” in the country’s creative community after rumors it was disrupting all production in Turkey, a major growth market and creative hub. The company said it has several original Turkish series running, with more to come.
The decision to remove “ If Only ” is a significant moment for the American company, which has promoted a diverse series of shows, as it has spread to nearly 200 million subscribers worldwide, most of whom are outside the USA.
Mahir Unal, spokesperson for the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP), admitted on Sunday that officials had raised issues with some Netflix scripts.
“Should we collectively apologize to Netflix?” he said. “What do they want from us? Do we bless everything Netflix does, find it appropriate, and sanctify it? Is there no place where we are allowed to lift reservations?
The dispute comes at a time when human rights activists warn of the deterioration of LGBT rights in the country.
Turkey is considered a relatively safe haven for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people from countries in the Middle East. But in recent years, the gay pride marches that drew thousands of participants have been called off. Senior officials in Erdogan’s party and government institutions often criticize homosexuality.
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