Olly Alexander rejects calls from queer activists to withdraw from Eurovision over Israel

More than 450 artists urged Alexander to pull out of this year’s competition because of the inclusion of Israel


Singer Olly Alexander has been selected to be the UK representative for Eurovision Song Contest 2024

Pop singer Olly Alexander has rejected calls from queer activists to withdraw as the UK’s Eurovision Song Contest entrant.

More than 450 LGBTQ+ artists, individuals and organisations published an open letter calling on Alexander to pull out of this year’s competition because of the inclusion of Israel.

Responding to the mounting pressure from online activists, Alexander posted a statement saying he hoped his participation in the contest would “inspire greater compassion and empathy”.

It comes after Queers for Palestine, a group that includes the actor Maxine Peake, argued in a letter that Israel’s presence in the competition helped to normalise the conflict in Gaza.

In a letter to Alexander directly, the group said: “We share the vision of queer joy and abundance you’ve offered through your music, and share your belief in collective liberation for all. In this spirit, we ask you to heed the Palestinian call to withdraw from Eurovision... There can be no party with a state committing apartheid and genocide.”

However, in a statement Alexander said: “We want to begin by acknowledging the privilege taking part in Eurovision.

“In light of the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, and particularly Gaza and in Israel, we do not feel comfortable being silent.

“It is important to us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and communicate our heartfelt wish for peace, an immediate and lasting ceasefire and the safe return of all hostages. We stand united against all forms of hate including antisemitism and Islamophobia.”

He appeared to distance himself from calls to boycott Israel, saying: “We firmly believe in the unifying power of music, enabling people to transcend differences and foster meaningful conversations and connections.”

Last year the BBC was urged to drop Alexander as the UK’s Eurovision Song Contest entrant after he signed an open letter branding Israel an “apartheid regime” and a “violent colonialist state”.

The letter signed by Alexander, who is gay and has been a champion of LGBTQ+ charity campaigns, was published less than two weeks after the October 7 massacre and is titled “International Queer Solidarity with Palestine”. It has been signed by over 1,400 LGBTQ+ individuals and organisations.

However, according to the The Daily Telegraph the BBC did not take any action as Alexander had signed the letter before he was revealed to be the UK’s Eurovision act.

Same sex activity is illegal in Palestine, carrying a prison sentence of up to 10 years, while Israel is widely understood to be the most LGBTQ-friendly country in the Middle East.

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