Tural and Turan, twin brothers representing Azerbaijan at the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, have faced homophobic backlash from people in Azerbaijan on social media due to their unique style.
Despite the negativity, TuralTuranX’s stylist expressed confidence in their style choices, saying, “I am not aware of criticism. All of Europe loves and supports our young representatives. I believe there is no one better to represent us. As a team, we went through a lot of trouble to choose the outfits for the opening ceremony. The outfits are colourful and well-liked. Tural and Turan are making their mark on the world with their style. Everyone loves them. If someone doesn’t like them, what can I say?”
Eurovision’s Azerbaijan delegation press officer, Ilaha Dadashova, responded to the criticism, saying that the outfits worn by Tural and Turan do not violate anyone’s honour or insult anyone.
Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s participation in Eurovision has been surrounded by contradictions. While the country’s LGBTQI+ community experiences widespread societal discrimination and harassment from the police, Azerbaijan’s 2020 Eurovision entry, “Cleopatra,” included the lines “Straight or gay or in between.”
However, the queerphobic backlash is not new in Azerbaijan. Although same-sex sexual activity is legal in the country, members of the LGBTQI+ community face widespread societal discrimination and harassment from the police. In 2017, dozens of individuals were fined or detained for weeks in a coordinated crackdown on the LGBTQI+ community, leading many to flee the country.
In 2021, LGBTQI+s in Azerbaijan have faced a series of attacks, leading local and international NGOs to call on authorities to investigate and protect individuals. According to Freedom House, many LGBTQI+s have reported experiencing physical and verbal assaults and significant societal discrimination based on their appearance.
According to ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Europe Map and Index, Azerbaijan has been ranked as the worst country for LGBTQI+ people for seven consecutive years in Europe. The LGBTQI+ community in Azerbaijan experiences widespread societal discrimination and harassment from the police, and there are no legal protections for them.