Netflix axes production on Turkish series over pressure from state to remove gay character

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·2-min read
San Diego, California, USA - March 21, 2011: A closeup of a movie or TV show buffering on a computer through Netflix's "Watch Instantly" service, which allows users to stream content directly to their computer or TV through the internet.
Netflix (Credit: Getty)

Netflix has axed its plans to produce an original drama series made in Turkey after pressure from authorities to remove a gay character.

According to the Financial Times, the drama, called If Only, was even refused a production licence to film the show because of the character's sexuality.

In a translated quote for Turkish film site Altyazi Fasikul, the show's creator Ece Yörenç said: “Due to a gay character, permission to film the series was not granted and this is very frightening for the future.”

The show, which starred actress Özge Özpirinçci, pivoted on an unhappily married woman who is shifted back in time to the moment when her husband proposed to her.

In a statement, Netflix said: “Netflix remains deeply committed to our Turkish members and the creative community in Turkey.

Read more: Brazilian supreme court overturns ‘gay Jesus’ comedy ban

“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.”

It's thought that rather than bow to pressure to alter the story, the project was cancelled instead.

The Turkish arm of the streaming giant was also targeted in April this year, after rumours began spreading on social media that a gay character was set to appear in the teen drama Love 101, and was set to air on 24 April, the beginning of Ramadan.

At the time, Ebubekir Sahin, president of the Radio and Television Supreme Council, told Turkish newspaper Yeni Akit: “We will not tolerate broadcasts that are contrary to the national and spiritual values of our society.”

Many also weighed in on Twitter, branding the streaming platform 'Islam's enemy' and calling for it to be banned, claiming that the Ramadan air date was planned on purpose.

Netflix Turkey responded: “A lot of false information is spreading from fake accounts... believe only what you hear from us about the series and the characters, not the rumours.”

The streamer aired its first ever Turkish original series The Protector last year.