TV show’s about-face on gay plotline angers LGBT community

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from Cyprus Mail:

A SIGMA screenwriter has apologised to viewers for featuring a gay couple in his series, promising to remove the story plotline, but in doing so has angered the LGBT community on the island.

Demetris Tokaris said that because of “strong complaints” against the plotline involving two men in a relationship, he would be removing references to the couple’s relationship in future episodes. “I apologise again if I offended some people,” Tokaris said.

Sigma’s ‘Efta Ourani ke Sinefa Alites’ airs at 7.30pm on weekdays. In an interview on Tokaris said the couple were not shown to be physically intimate, but were worrying about ‘coming out’ to their parents. The plan now is for them to tell their parents – who take it rather badly – prompting the couple to move to Spain.

“I confess that is because of the viewers’ reactions,” Tokaris said. He said society at large was happy to see gay people featured as “caricatures” for comic relief but not as “people with concerns and anxieties”.

“I can’t change the mentality of the average Cypriot. I wish I could, but I can’t,” he said.

“At first I upset the homophobes, then the other side. But I said I’ll pass, I’m not going to change the way Cypriot society thinks,” Tokaris said.

On behalf of the ‘other side’, the head of ACCEPT-LGBT Cyprus, advocating for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community in Cyprus, said in an open letter his excuses were not enough.

Costas Gavrielides said the people who complained, and Tokaris alike, responded in a way that was a small-scale version of the hysterical reactions of conservative and far right elements. Instead of respecting his profession and seizing the opportunity to change the mentality, Tokaris chose to be a victim of people’s reactions, Gavrielides said. “If the reactions involved a foreigner/migrant, would you have responded in the same way? Or do you believe that being against gay people is not a form of racism?” ACCEPT-LGBT said in their letter.

Adding insult to injury for the LGBT community, the series features a priest who regularly cheats on his wife but whose scandalous affairs are allowed to be aired on TV, Gavrielides said. And Cypriot TV viewers are familiar with love triangles and all sorts of befuddling sexual affairs, he added. “Unfortunately with your attitude you are feeding the mentality that wants the marginalisation of LGBT people,” Gavrielides said, adding that regardless of his intentions, Tokaris was encouraging conservatism, prudishness and racism.

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