Turkey’s president has taken a swipe at the Eurovision Song Contest, accusing the annual event of encouraging “gender neutralisation” and threatening the traditional family.

In a speech following a Cabinet meeting, Recep Tayyip Erdogan described participants at the contest as the “Trojan horses of social corruption” and said his government was right to keep Turkey out of the pan-European pop competition since 2012.

It was an apparent reference to Swiss singer Nemo who won the 68th Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month with The Code, an operatic pop-rap ode to the singer’s journey toward embracing a nongender identity.

Sweden Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final
Nemo of Switzerland, celebrates after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest (Martin Meissner/AP)

The 24-year-old singer became the first non-binary winner of the contest that has long been embraced as a safe haven by the LGBTQ community.

“At such events, it has become impossible to meet a normal person,” claimed Mr Erdogan, whose ruling Justice and Development Party finds its roots in Turkey’s Islamic movement and whose government has grown less tolerant of LGBTQ rights in recent years.

“We understand better how we made the right decision by keeping Turkey out of this disgraceful competition for the past 12 years,” he said.

Mr Erdogan on Monday also decried a serious decline in birth rates in Turkey as an “existential threat” and a “disaster” for the country.

Last week, Turkey’s State Statistical Institute announced that the country’s birth rate in 2023 had dropped to 1.51 children per woman.

The Turkish leader has long called on families to have at least three children.