Tamar Iveri: Opera Australia sacks star soprano over homophobic Facebook post describing gay people as ‘sewage’

Singer has blamed husband for post and said she ‘abhor[s] prejudice in any form’

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The Independent Online

The Georgian singer at the centre of a homophobia row has been released by Opera Australia over an “unconscionable” Facebook post that described gay people as “sewage”.

Tamar Iveri had been due to star in the company’s production of Verdi’s Otello opening in less than two weeks’s time, but has now “withdrawn from the cast” in response to a furious backlash from the Australian public.

The row flared up at the end of last week when the Australian media unearthed reports of the social media post last year which, framed as a letter to the Georgian president, came after Orthodox Christian groups violently assaulted members of a gay pride march in the capital Tbilisi.

The post, apparently from Iveri, reportedly read: “I was quite proud of the fact how Georgian society spat at the parade… Often, in certain cases, it is necessary to break jaws in order to be appreciated as a nation in the future, and to be taken into account seriously.

“Please, stop vigorous attempts to bring West’s ‘faecal masses’ [or sewage] in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda.”

Iveri has since said that the post was written by her “very religious” husband with “a tough attitude towards gay people” and uploaded to her page without her knowledge.

But in a statement issued today, Opera Australia said that the views stated in the Facebook message were “unconscionable” and that the star would now not appear in its production.

“Opera Australia has reached agreement with Ms Iveri to immediately release her from her contract with the company,” the statement read.

A spokesperson for the company told local media that a replacement would be announced in due course, and that Otello would still open on 5 July as planned.

It has also been reported that an opera house in Brussels has dropped Iveri from another production due to begin next year.

This morning Iveri issued a further statement on her own Facebook page, describing her decision to “withdraw” from the production to “ensure that the performances take place undisturbed by any further controversy”.

She repeated her assertion – that has been questioned by an LGBT charity involved in the row – that the homophobic post was the work of her husband, “and that I therefore cannot take personal responsibility for [it]”.

“I have never been prejudiced against anyone, whether for religious, or racial reasons,

or for any other kind of prejudice including those regarding sexual preference,” she said. “I abhor prejudice in any form altogether.”