In an era of online communications, words have no expiry date and may hunt you down at any time. Of course, anyone can make mistakes, do or say something totally unacceptable, hurtful, and then genuinely apologise for the wrongs and try making amends. I am all for giving a second chance but only if I believe you are genuine in your actions and intentions, or at least I see some real efforts. If this is the case, people will forgive you. But at times the ‘apology’ is so fake that makes things even worse.
Just weeks ahead of her Opera Australia performance, Georgian opera singer Tamar Iveri was exposed as a homophobe. And it was particularly virulent type of homophobia, disgusting beyond words.
Georgian soprano causes outrage for describing LGBT people as "faecal matter”Georgian soprano Tamar Iveri, scheduled to sing Desdemona in Otello for Opera Australia in July and Tosca later this year in Melbourne, has been roundly condemned for an open letter she wrote to the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in May last year. In the lengthy diatribe, originally posted on her Facebook page, she describes LGBT people as “deviants” and suggests that homosexuality is part of the “faecal mass” being foisted on Georgia by the West.
Iveri’s outburst came on the back of a rally organised by LGBT activists and other Georgian citzens to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) in the city of Tbilisi. According to reports, tens of thousands of Orthodox Christian activists attacked the participants some of whom, it is claimed, narrowly escaped death. Iveri, however, lambasted the Georgian President for condemning the violence writing that she was “proud of the fact how Georgian society spat at the parade”.After outrage that the letter had caused, Tamar deleted it from her FB page, but it had already been translated by LGBT activists in Tbilisi and distributed online. Back then, this incident did not reach world headlines, with only Paris Opera cancelling her performance, formally due to “health condition” but many believe the real reason was the letter that was passed to the Director of the Paris Opera.
The letter, which contains frequent references to bodily waste, sexual practices and Western moral corruption makes for difficult reading. Backing those who attacked the parade, Iveri says that “often, in certain cases, it is necessary to break jaws in order to be appreciated as a nation” and maintaining that the perpetrators of the violence were “Georgian youth of pure blood, still unspoiled by you [President Mikheil Saakashvili]”.
A year on, this exposé caused online storm in social networks and media headlines in The Guardian and The Independent with an instant demand to Opera Australia to fire her.
To make things worse, Tamar Iveri released a statement where she alleged that the letter was in fact written by her husband.
“My husband was using my Facebook account at that time and he is a very religious man with a tough attitude towards gay people. He copied my text, changed it considerably and posted it under my name.”This was the most ridiculous and unbelievable attempt at damage control I have seen. And when she claimed: "He copied my text, changed it considerably and posted it under my name." - what was in her original text, I wonder? I do not expect anything positive.
Opera Australia has since been under mounting pressure and demands from LGBT rights activists, Twitter and FB users, opera lovers and financial sponsors to drop Tamar Iveri. After initial hesitation, Opera Australia released a statement announcing termination of the contract with Georgian opera singer describing views attributed to the singer towards gay people as “unconscionable”. Earlier Brussels Opera dropped her from upcoming production too.
The only right decision. And lesson to others.