Turkey forces Netflix to cancel TV series over gay character

The projects was canned even before filming started

The Turkish government has forced Netflix to cancel a new series before filming had even started in what critics decry as a new extreme in censorship in the country.

Netflix Turkey was preparing to film “If Only”, a series that would feature popular actress Ozge Ozpirincci as Reyhan, an unhappily married woman who time travels back in time to the moment her husband proposed to her.

According to an interview with the show’s creator and screenwriter, Ece Yorenc, Netflix shelved the project after Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council, the state media regulator, objected to a gay side character in the script. Normally in Turkey, unwanted content is censored or banned after a series has been released.

According to Lara Ozlen, social media expert at the Speak Out Platform, a nongovernmental organisation challenging censorship in Turkey, Netflix’s cancellation of “If Only” is an extreme example of the culture of censorship that has long existed in the country.

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“Once censorship begins it is like an unstoppable vortex,” Ozlen told Al-Monitor, referring to ever-increasing levels of government control since the implementation of state internet filters led to massive protests in 2011.

Bilge Yesil, an associate professor of media culture at the City University of New York, described the cancellation of “If Only” as a shocking new level of censorship that is ultimately consistent with the “authoritarian, state-centred approach” of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“The latest Netflix decision exposes how Turkish media culture is becoming increasingly narrow with each passing year, month, day,” Yesil, the author of “Media in New Turkey: The Origins of an Authoritarian Neoliberal State,” told Al-Monitor.

more at al-monitor.com