Norway's Tooji comes out in controversial music video
Iain Cameron | On 10, Jun 2015
Tooji, the representative for Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, has released a new music video to express his coming out!
The video and song, “Father,” was released yesterday and Tooji announced it via Twitter:
My new video Father is Out, and so am I! http://t.co/pfoGKM8ovx
— Tooji (@Tooji_) June 8, 2015
Religion vs LGBT rights
In addition to his new music video, he also released a video explaining his feelings on religion vs. LGBT rights. Being born in Iran before moving to Norway, he explains that even now in Iran, “young men and women are being hunted down and harassed because of who they love.'”
Tooji is not blinded, however. He also says that there is still a stigma attached to being gay even in liberal countries such as Norway.
Banned from Iran
Tooji also ran into difficulty during the 2012 contest in Baku because of his criticism of Iran, similarly to Loreen who met with human rights activists in the city before the contest. This angered the Azerbaijani government who called for the contest not to be politicised. As a result of his criticism, Tooji is now banned from entering Iran.
Fired from NRK
The video has caused quite a stir in Norway. After hosting the Norwegian Melodi Grand Prix Junior for three years, the local version of Junior Eurovision, national broadcaster NRK has let Tooji go following the video release. The channel was given the script to the video prior to its release and gave Tooji the choice between hosting the children’s show and releasing video with sexual content. He chose the latter.
In Tooji’s view, he was fired. Production had already started on the show with Tooji on board when he was let go, but he felt he didn’t have a choice. “I told them it was important for me to come out and show that being gay is not to be considered shameful anymore,” he said to VG.no.
Violating the church
The bishop of Oslo has also called the video “unacceptable,” as sexual acts by the alter violates the church space, and the church feels that Tooji misrepresented the project when he applied to use the church for filming. They insist that a heterosexual scene would have been just as unacceptable.
The church is particularly disappointed as they let Tooji use the church to support gay rights. Now, they fear the video will only cause further divide.
Tooji represented Norway in Baku in 2012 with the song “Stay” and shockingly came last, despite being a favourite.