Netflix pulls plug on Turkish original series over gov’t censorship of gay character

Netflix has scrapped a Turkish drama series after Turkish officials denied it a filming license due to a gay character, entertainment magazine the Variety reported on Tuesday, citing a spokesman for the streaming service.

Authorities denied permission for “If Only” (“Şimdiki Aklım Olsaydı’’ in Turkish), a Turkish original series produced by the country’s production powerhouse Ay Yapım, after reviewing the script, which featured five gay characters, it said.

The online streaming service refused to change the script and chose to cancel the show’s production, the source said, paying all pre–production costs.

The cancellation of the eight-part relationship drama starring Turkish actress Özge Özpirinçci arrives as local reports in the country speculated that Netflix would pull the plug on all of its productions in Turkey. 

On Monday, the streaming giant issued a statement, saying it would continue with other projects in the country.

“Netflix remains deeply committed to our Turkish members and the creative community in Turkey. We are proud of the incredible talent we work with,” the Netflix spokesperson said.

Another Netflix Turkey original, “Love 101,”  stirred controversy in the country when speculation began circulating on Twitter in April that a leading character on the show would be revealed to be gay.

Earlier this month, the deputy chair of Turkey’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party, Mahir Ünal, said the character was originally scripted as gay, hinting at censorship by the country.