When a Serbian X Factor judge attacked a contestant for being transgender she sang her response: ‘I am beautiful, no matter what they say.’
The amazing moment, her talent and her beauty won the hearts of the other three judges and the crowd – who rewarded her for saying she was trans with a spontaneous round of applause.
But LGBTI activists in Serbia have criticized the attack by the X Factor judge and former Eurovision contestant Željko Joksimović.
Fifi Janevski was performing on the TV singing contest on 5 November when she was asked about her gender identity.
She replied she was transgender and should be referred to as female but Joksimović replied with what LGBTI activists in the country have said was ‘firstly disrespect, then disbelief and loathing’
He told her: ‘I personally don’t like that… but you are a good singer.’
And he laughingly suggested to other judges there was a male-female clash in the singer, saying ‘there are two of them’.
Janevski wowed the crowd and the other judges with her version of Cher’s famous Dov’e L’Amore.
But at the end of her performance, Joksimović told Janevski he was ‘not persuaded’ and asked her to sing more.
She replied by bursting into an acappella version of Christina Aguilera’s song, telling him: ‘I am beautiful no matter what they say. Words can’t bring me down. So don’t you bring me down today.’
A spokesperson for Gayten-LGBT, a leading LGBTI organization in Belgrade, told us: ‘Željko made a transphobic remark but the other judges were really supportive and loving.
‘Kristina Kovač, Kiki Lesendrić and Emina Jahović, all showed support and complimented her on her performance, singing, looks and bravery.’
In a joint statement from Gayten-LGBT and Labris, activists say: ‘Željko Joksimović, being a public persona and a well-known musician has a responsibility towards what he states in public.
‘He has shown a basic ignorance of the right to gender expression and thus we find that he broke the anti-discrimination law, judging a person based on her personal characteristic, not based on her singing abilities.
‘That way, Željko Joksimović contributes to an even more difficult position of trans people in Serbia, who are exposed to multiple violence and discrimination on daily basis.
‘We also remember a coldblooded murder of Darko Vujanović in June this year in Belgrade.
‘We expect a prompt and efficient reaction of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality and the Serbian Radio-Diffusion Agency, as well as a public apology of Željko Joksimović and Pink [the TV station].’
X Factor Adria is made in Serbian but the show is pan-regional with auditions and contestants from Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia too.
Janevski is from the Republic of Macedonia capital, of Skopje.
You can watch her performance here: