Turkish pop singer and songwriter Mabel Matiz, real name Fatih Karaca, released a new love song on the last day of Pride month titled “Karakol” (‘Police Station’), which depicts a love story between two men.
Matiz starred alongside model Serdar Bileke in his music video and is seen holding red carnations and lilies in various shots, and the colors of the rainbow flag are also featured.
The song caused an immediate reaction in Turkish conservative groups who expressed their dissatisfaction with a song celebrating same-sex relationships. Hours after the video was posted on YouTube, nearly 4.5 million people had already viewed the clip and critics called for it to be removed.
The song also trended on Twitter with the hashtag #copshop used by fans and #HaddiniBilMabelMatiz (Mabel Matiz, know your place) used by critics who argued the content was inappropriate.
Turkey’s main media watchdog, the Supreme Council of Turkish Radio and Television (RTÜK) responded by banning ‘Karakol‘ to be broadcast on television stations across the country.
Homosexuality is taboo in Turkey
Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Turkey where last month’s Istanbul Pride week ended with barricaded streets and multiple arrests by police to prevent attendees from marching or celebrating their gayness. Istanbul Pride has been banned consecutively since 2014.
Police arrested over 373 people for participating in Istanbul Pride Parade. City governors had banned the 30th Istanbul Pride Week, saying it posed a threat to peace and security.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also voiced his homophobic views in public before. He even said that homosexuals did not exist. In a televised speech last year, Erdoğan said that “LGBT doesn’t exist. This country is…moral, and it will walk into the future with those values.
Everything passes, but the songs remain
Despite the song’s censorship by RTÜK and negative reactions from conservative critics in Turkey, audiences supported Matiz. Many fans praised him for his courage for showing an example of what gay love means.
One fan said: “The song deserves praise for its courageous and human reflections on domestic violence and homosexuality; This is a rare piece of protest in art form. Another said: ‘Art to combat intolerance and hatred is needed more than ever’
The singer responded to fans, artists and other allies in the LGBT community in a message after the video was banned from all TV channels. Matiz said: “To your messages, comments, which I could not access one by one, your embrace of “Karakol“so sincerely, I thank you with all my heart.
He added that there were many more stories to tell and that his songs would continue to “express all states of love and humanity to stubbornly hold hands” because “everything passes, but the songs remain”.