The CEO of the 30,000-capacity Pori Jazz Festival, Aki Ruotsala, has been sacked before even officially taking-up the role, after making derogatory remarks about homosexuals.
In an interview with local media ahead of starting the job on 1 August, Ruotsala, a member of the country’s Christian Democratic Party, said that gay people did not exist and homosexuality could be “fixed” like drug addiction.
After the comments were made public Pori Jazz, which was founded in 1966 and is one of Europe’s longest running festivals, swiftly terminated Ruotsala’s contract.
“Pori Jazz completely and unconditionally rejects all kinds of discrimination,” says festival chair Hannu Jaakkola. “We are a discrimination-free and equal festival. These values are shared by the board and festival staff. We apologise to everyone this has affected and offended.
“If we’d known of his opinions before, we’d not have appointed him.”
Ruotsala claims he was misquoted and in a Facebook post says, “Pori Jazz is one of Finland’s most prestigious and finest festivals. What matters to me is that it grows and thrives.”
Acts playing the 14-22 July event include Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, James Blunt, Jess Glynne and Alanis Morissette.