Turkish nationalist leader hurls insults at Swiss non-binary Eurovision winner

The nationalist MHP chief and Turkish government ally Devlet Bahçeli took his time at a group meeting to slander Nemo, the Swiss 2024 Eurovision champion, over their non-binary status and attire.

Duvar English

Turkey's government ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli targeted Nemo, the non-binary 2024 Eurovision winner from Switzerland, in a group meeting on May 14.

“It is a confirmation of embarrassing degeneracy that the male artist who won first place appeared in the contest wearing a feathery jacket and pink satin skirt,” Bahçeli said, whose party is in coalition with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 2018.

“If this is called modernity, we say, ‘Down with such modernity,’” he continued, adding they are committed to a form of modernity with ‘their own values.’

24-year-old Nemo made history on May 11 as the song contest’s first non-binary winner in an edition rife with controversy over Israel’s inclusion and the shock disqualification of the Netherlands.

Nemo’s drum’n’bass propelled song "The Code," centering on the artist’s coming to terms with their identity, secured victory with 594 points, marking the first top spot for Switzerland since 1988. Croatia’s entry "Rim Tim Tagi Dim" took second place with 547 points.

The 76-year-old Bahçeli characterized Nemo’s triumph as indicative of "the threats facing humanity," stating that “masses are in the grip of psychological disorders and perverted tendencies,” referring to non-binary identities.

“The fact that the contest, which was more political than artistic, turned into a propaganda for moral decadence, and that a third species, between men and women, was put into circulation has become a warning sign in terms of showing the extent of rottenness,” Bahçeli said.

Turkey has been absent from the international song contest since 2012 due to changes in the voting system.

Following speculations of a return, Turkey’s public broadcaster TRT expressed reservations in 2018, citing “someone like the bearded Austrian who wore a skirt” and challenges "traditional gender norms" as a reason for the continuing boycott, referring to the 2014 winner Conchita Wurst.

LGBTI+ rights in Turkey have been facing increasing pressure in recent years, with President Erdoğan frequently denouncing LGBTI+ individuals as “perverts,” “deviants,” and “viruses,” framing them as antithetical to “family values.”

(English version by Wouter Massink)