TBILISI, DFWatch–Opera Australia has canceled a contract with the Georgian opera singer Tamar Iveri after she made comments that were taken as homophobic.
The offending comment by Iveri, a world famous soprano, posted a comment on her Facebook page on May 17, 2013.
This is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), which a small group of activists wanted to mark peacefully in Tbilisi in 2013, but tens of thousands of conservative Christian activists attacked them and prevented them from holding the event.
The post allegedly posted that day by Iveri is now deleted, but Identoba, the organization behind the 2013 event, published her post on its website. It was addressed to ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who at the times expressed concern because of what happened on May 17.
The post was originally written in English and is quite lengthy. It says that she, a person, who condemns all kinds of violence, has many gay friends, and was proud that the day showed how “how Georgian society spat at the parade.” She also wrote that the planned rally was organized by Saakashvili’s National Movement.
“Please, stop vigorous attempts to bring West’s “fecal masses” in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda,” the post reads. “No matter how unhappy “friendly West” might become, fortunately, the Georgian people are well aware of what fruits, offered by the West in their menu, to eat and what to discard. Just like my small dog guesses it.”
June 1, Identoba published another letter which she wrote to the organization apologizing for her previous post. She wrote that she had a difficult time in those days and wrote the post in ten minutes in an emotional state of mind.
“I don’t know how my regret will help to remove the offence or to calm the anger, but I want to apologize to all those people who were inadvertently hurt or felt their dignity battered, or simply got concerned for unconventional and unacceptable opinion,” the letter reads.
Last week people started appealing to Opera Australia not to let Tamar Iveri perform at the opera because of her homophobic statements.
She was slated to sing Desdemona in Otello. The picture with quotes and picture of Iveri went viral on the internet under the headline “Sack Her Now.”
In response, Iveri denied that she published the offending post in 2013, but that it was her husband who did it.
She wrote that the protest which she calls a ‘parade’ should have been conducted in the yard of the Orthodox Church in Tbilisi. A few days before May 17, 2013, Georgian soldiers died in Afghanistan and a day before there was a commemoration for them.
“For that reason and because Georgia is a country where 90% of the population are deeply religious, conservative Orthodox Christians, I wanted to express my sincere doubts that a parade made sense under these circumstances, in the yard of the Orthodox Church. I was worried that this would provoke people and lead to violence,” she writes.
“Besides myself, my husband was using my Facebook account at that time and he is a very religious man with a tough attitude towards gay people. He copied my text, changed it considerably and posted it under my name.”
When she discovered it, she deleted the post immediately. Iveri drew attention to the fact that she apologized for the post and her apology was accepted by Indentoba.
On Monday, Opera Australia confirmed that Iveri won’t be performing in Otello.
“Opera Australia has reached agreement with Ms Iveri to immediately release her from her contract with the company,” a statement by Opera Australia reads.
“Ms Iveri and her husband have both made public statements in the last 48 hours with regards to comments attributed to Ms Iveri.”
The same day, Iveri’s Facebook page changed its profile picture into a cover photo sporting the LGBT colors, peace logo and harmony symbols and published another statement about the issue.
“By withdrawing I wish to ensure that the performances take place undisturbed by any further controversy. I do not want such an important artistic event to be marred by any problem which, however unintentionally, has developed because of my presence in the cast,” she wrote.
This is not the first case Iveri is forced not to perform for the same reason. Earlier, La Monnaie Opera in Brussels canceled her performance.