The deputy chair of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said a character on a popular Turkish Netflix series was originally scripted as being gay, confirming suspicions of censorship by the state-run broadcasting watchdog.
The role of Osman, a high school student featured in a coming-of-age comedy drama, Aşk 101 (Love 101), was first written as a gay character, news site Duvar cited AKP’s Mahir Ünal as saying on Tuesday.
“Netflix asked for a series and a script was prepared. The series featured a gay storyline,” Ünal said, referring to the character in question.
Ünal’s statement contradicts that of Turkey’s TV watchdog, which responded to mounting criticism by the country’s conservative circles ahead of the series premier earlier this year on the inclusion of homosexuality on TV.
Shortly before the series launched in April, the director of Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), Ebubekir Şahin, said the TV watchdog would not tolerate a homosexual theme, adding that RTÜK would apply sanctions to Netflix if the series featured a gay character. The subsequent airing of the show was interpreted as the series being clear of any themes of homosexuality.
RTÜK, which is controlled by allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has come under criticism for turning increasingly conservative under the 18-year rule of his Islamist AKP.