Zeljko Joksimovic, Serbia’s Eurovision contestant in 2004 and 2012, has sparked controversy after making insensitive comments about a transgender contestant on X Factor Adria.
The remarks were broadcast on November 5 during his critique of trans singer Fifi Janevski. Zeljko asked Fifi about her gender identity. When she explained that she should be referred to using female pronouns, he said: “I personally don’t like that…but you are a good singer.” He then laughed, told the other judges that Fifi was struggling with a male-female battle, and said “there are two of them.”
Janevski won over the three other judges with her rendition of the Cher song “Dov’e L’Amore.” But Joksimovic said he needed to hear more to decide whether to send her through to the next round.
Fifi does not play, y’all. She busted out Christina Aguilera’s song “Beautiful,” telling Joksimovic that she’s beautiful no matter what he says. “Words can’t bring me down,” she sang. “So don’t you bring me down today.” Take that!
Fifi made it to the next stage of the contest, and Joksimovic has faced criticism from LGBT advocacy groups. Gayten-LGBT and Labris, two of the country’s largest groups, issued a statement condemning his remarks.
Zeljko Joksimovic, 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. In that way, Zeljko Joksimovic contributes to an even more difficult position of trans people in Serbia, who are exposed to multiple violence and discrimination on daily basis.
Was Zeljko out of line to say that on national TV? And what do you think of Fifi’s response?