LGBTQ festival organisers defend decision to book headliner Iggy Azalea following protests

Protestors have pointed to controversial comments from the rapper's past ahead of Pittsburgh Pride event

Organisers of a music festival in Pittsburgh is facing protests from LGBTQ activists after booking Iggy Azalea to headline their annual event.

Azalea is scheduled to headline this year’s Pittsburgh Pridefest on June 13 but petitions aimed at preventing the Australian rapper from performing have already begun circulating, Billboard reports. The festival promotes itself as “the premiere LGBT community festival in Pennsylvania” and last year featured performances from Adam Lambert, Chaka Khan, and Patti LaBelle.

The protests stem from claims of racially insensitive and homophobic remarks made by the rapper on the internet in the past. Critics of the festival also believe event organisers the Delta Foundation no longer welcoming of people from diverse backgrounds. A Facebook group for protestors states: “there is little to no evidence of Delta advocating for anybody but affluent cis gay white men.”

Joy KMT, who created the Facebook group, stated: “We are in a time … where there are uprisings all over America. Black trans women are being killed all over the nation. For it to be whitewashed is a destruction of legacy.”

Organisers of the festival have defended their booking decision, however, with the Delta Foundation telling the Pittsburgh City Paper: “If we believed that Iggy Azalea was racist or homophobic, we certainly would not have selected her to headline Pittsburgh Pride. We also don’t believe she would have agreed to come if she was racist or homophobic.”

Live dates from Azalea have become something of a rarity in recent months. In March, Azalea announced that she was postponing her tour in order to further develop her live show. “To accommodate for creative team availability and tour productions, it was determined that the tour will not be ready this spring,” read a statement on behalf of the star. “It’s important to Iggy that she delivers the show she envisaged to share with her fans and that requires more time in development.”