A Georgia-born opera singer is under fire for an anti-gay rant in which she referred to gay people as 'fecal masses', and welcomed violent attacks against a pride parade.
Tamar Iveri, who is currently in Sydney for rehearsals for Opera Australia’s Otello, has denied responsibility for a viciously anti-gay letter which made the news headlines in Australia on Friday.
Her letter, which was published on her Facebook account in May last year, had praised the anti-gay violence in her Central Asia home country of Georgia. It was in response to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's condemnation of violent attacks on a gay rights parade in the Georgian capital Tiblisi the day prior.
The soprano, who is to play Desdemona in her upcoming Sydney performances, is said to have described the gay rights movement as 'fecal masses' and praised those who perpetrated the violence as 'Georgian youth of pure blood'.
Her 2013 Facebook post in Georgian said: '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 "fecal masses" in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda.'
According to Australian media reports, Iveri accused her husband of changing her original letter and posting it under her name. She said on Facebook that he had been using her account at the time, and described him as 'a very religious man with a tough attitude towards gay people'.
Following its initial publication last year, the Georgian LGBT rights organisation Identoba wrote to the National Opera of Paris in the same month requesting an upcoming concert by the soprano be cancelled.
Their letter read in part: 'We would like to bring your attention to homophobic and hate inspiring activity by one of your opera singers, Ms Tamar Iveri, resulting in death threats and physical injuries to many Georgians.'
Iveri however made no mention of her husband using her account in an apology she wrote to Identoba last year.
Australian opera fans have expressed anger on social media over her comments while the LGBTI community and their supporters have called on Opera Australia to sack Iveri from Otello and a Melbourne season of Tosca later this year.
Opera Australia has responded saying in a statement that rehearsals and performances will continue as planned.
In light of the current controversy, La Monnaie Opera in Brussels has reportedly dropped Iveri from its production of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera next year.