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Opera Singer Tamar Iveri Fired From Lead Role in Australia After Controversial Gay Comments

Tamar Iveri (R)
Singers Nadia Krasteva (L) and Tamar Iveri (R) perform on stage as Olga and Tatjana during a dress rehearsal of Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin at Vienna's State Opera March 3, 2009. |

Opera singer Tamar Iveri has been released from her contract with Opera Australia and what was supposed to be her lead role as Desdemona in "Otello" next month, after controversial comments were uncovered on her Facebook page that compared gay and lesbian people to fecal matter.

"Opera Australia confirms soprano Ms Tamar Iveri will not be performing in 'Otello.' Opera Australia has reached agreement with Ms Iveri to immediately release her from her contract with the company," the company said in a statement on Monday. "Ms Iveri has unreservedly apologized for those comments and views. Opera Australia believes the views as stated to be unconscionable."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation News reported that the controversial comments on Iveri's Facebook page, which were posted last year but deleted shortly afterwards, described gay people as "sewage" and "fecal masses."

Responding to a gay pride march in her home in Georgia, the soprano singer wrote: "I was quite proud of the fact how Georgian society spat at the parade ... Please, stop vigorous attempts to bring West's 'fecal masses' in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda."

Iveri has since apologized for the comments, and said that it was her husband who wrote them. In another Facebook post she said:

"I also must say that I am immensely saddened and hurt by the campaign which is now being mounted against me. I have never been prejudiced against anyone, whether for religious, or racial reasons, or for any other kind of prejudice including those regarding sexual preference. I abhor prejudice in any form altogether.

She continued: "I have been performing in an art form that includes thousands of gay people on both sides of the stage, and there is no one who can come forward and claim that I have ever exhibited any such prejudice against them."

Iveri has said that it was her husband that changed the text of her post. She had initially written about the gay pride parade and concerns she had that its path took it by an Orthodox Church at the same time as a commemoration for Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

"I have said before and say here again that the words attributed to me were not my own, and that I therefore cannot take personal responsibility for them," she insisted about the deleted comments.

The husband, Raul Tskhadadze, confirmed that he used his wife's popularity to publish the message on her behalf.

"The letter was signed on our Facebook page, when Tamar returned home she erased the letter and got very upset. However, a few minutes were enough for people and for Georgian press," Tskhadadze wrote on Sunday.

"Tamar, despite the fact that the text that was written by me was unacceptable for her. She did not disclose the letter was written by me. She had endured and suffered a lot because of the letter which I wrote. Tamar has never been homophobic and especially not against Western values."

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