Netflix cancels Turkish series ‘If Only’ amid government pressure to remove gay character

"This is very frightening for the future"

Netflix has cancelled filming on a Turkish original series following pressure to remove a gay character.

The producers of If Only, what would have been an eight-part relationship drama, were refused a filming license by the Turkish government because a gay character was written into the show.

The show’s creator, Ece Yörenç told Altyazi Fasikul (which was then translated into the Financial Times): “Due to a gay character, permission to film the series was not granted and this is very frightening for the future.”

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According to Deadline, Netflix were presented with potential creative changes from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, but chose to terminate the project instead.

In a general statement, Netflix said: “Netflix remains deeply committed to our Turkish members and the creative community in Turkey. We are proud of the incredible talent we work with.

“We currently have several Turkish originals in production — with more to come — and look forward to sharing these stories with our members all around the world.”

Earlier this month, a queer character was removed from Turkish series Aşk 101, upon request from the country’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK).

“With bilateral talks, the problem about that character has been removed,” a representative from RTÜK said, asking to preserve anonymity.

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The discussions regarded a character named Osman in the series, who was initially written as homosexual but was then changed following RTÜK’s request.

A rule passed in August 2019 allows RTÜK to regulate television, radio and on-demand broadcasting in Turkey, which includes content streaming on Puhutv, BluTV and Netflix.

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