A Polish state-owned broadcaster says it still has “many stars” on its roster, after Sporty Spice abruptly pulled out of a New Years’ Eve show on Monday due to concerns over LGBT rights.
Melanie “Mel C” Chisholm, 48, surprised fans—and channel Telewizja Polskawhen—when she canceled her upcoming appearance on New Year’s Eve Dreams with Dwójka in a tweet Monday afternoon.
“In light of some issues that have been brought to my attention, that do not align with the communities I support, I’m afraid I will no longer be able to perform in Poland as planned on New Year’s Eve,” the Spice Girl wrote.
TVP seems to think its lineup, which features mostly Polish acts unknown outside the country, is stacked anyway.
In a statement to Polish media published by The Guardian, the government-backed channel said: “Melanie C is one of the many stars of this year’s ‘New Year’s Eve Dreams with Dwójka’, who accepted the invitation and signed a contract with Telewizja Polska and will celebrate the new year with us, and today – under the pressure of online comments – she unexpectedly resigned from the performance.”
The channel maintains that its NYE show is apolitical in the face of legalized homophobia sweeping Poland.
“The company was surprised to hear about the artist’s change of plans. TVP reminds that New Year’s Eve is a concert for everyone who wants to welcome the new year with good fun.”
The broadcaster did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.
Despite TVP’s complaints, Mel’s fans seem satisfied that the singer has taken a stand against Poland’s human rights violations.
“Thank you for not only being here for us, but also by us. We love you Mel,” wrote one fan on Twitter. Another wrote: “On behalf of all Poles, for whom democracy and the rule of law are of paramount importance, as well as respect and tolerance towards various environments and social groups, I would like to thank you for the very good decision you have made.”
Both Russia and Poland, like other central and eastern European nations, lag far behind their western European neighbors in recognizing LGBTQ rights.
In a ranking of 49 European nations “based on how the laws and policies of each country impact on the lives of LGBTI people,” the ILGA-Europe ranked Poland at number 44, just a few spots above Russia (#46), Turkey (#48), and Azerbaijan (49).
But the issues that Mel C and other critics have with Poland go far beyond gay marriage.
The mostly Catholic country has made headlines in recent years due to its highly publicized “LGBT-free zones.” The local laws aim to prevent the spread of LGBT “ideology.”
One Polish county passed a law emphasizing the municipality’s support of “traditional family values,” rejecting the LGBT community for “undermining the concept of a family model.”
In all, TVP seems content with its current lineup, which includes Polish singers like Edyta Górniak, Justyna Steczkowska, MaRina, and Kasia Moś, according to the blog Poland Posts English. But losing someone with broader appeal, like a member of the most successful girl group in music history, must still count as a loss for the program.