Pop Bitch today reported that Kemal Shahin has been in negotiations to represent Turkey at the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. esctoday.com contacted Kemal, a former Big Brother contestant in the United Kingdom, and former editor on esctoday.com. Kemal confirmed that TRT had ended negotiations and explained the disappointment about the reasons given for being discounted from the running.
Kemal told esctoday.com that:
"It made a massive difference when they found out that I was trans-gender. Until then, discussions were proceding very well. I had presented songs that I had previously recorded as requested. I was also asked to submit a written document containing four or five different styles that I could use, although they had not decided if the singer and songwriter would be decided together or not. They then came back to inform us that they were looking at me as a singer, but that they would select the song for us.
At no point had I hidden anything about myself, I assumed that as an artist, being transgener would not be an issue. Once I submitted an in-depth document about myself, they began looking at press and news about me. Then, I heard nothing, communications just stopped.
My team rang them to find out what was happening, and were told that there was a problem! They then explained that they were no longer considering me as a suitable artist because of the transgender issue. They told us that "It makes a big difference, at this time we cannot have a transgender singer representing us". The selection committee were angered by this because up until this point they were happy with us, especially as I am an artist could sing in native English, which is what they are focussing on this year. We were told that "Turkey is not built on such principles".
When I said that Dana International won for Israel in 1998, I was told "This is not Israel, they can do as they please. This is Turkey and we cannot allow a transgender singer to represent us".
Asked about participation for another country, Kemal told esctoday.com that:
"I would be happy to represent a country, as long as I have the right song. I live in the United Kingdom and would love to represent them. At the same time, I am Turkish, and it would have been a dream.
It's important to me to understand the country and to understand the culure, so I would want to go there and spend a lot of time in the country I'd be representing. It's also important to me to do this now because Turkey has given me a point to prove, that a transgender singer can still be successful at the the Eurovision Song Contest That said, it shouldn't be about my gender, it should only be about the artist".