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Pori Jazz boss fired over gay cure comments

The newly-minted CEO of the Pori Jazz festival, Aki Ruotsala, has been fired after making controversial comments about homosexuality.

Mies hymyilee ja pitää kädessään Pori Jazz -kahvikuppia.
Pori Jazz CEO Aki Ruotsala was fired on Wednesday. Image: Jari Pelkonen / Yle

Christian Democrat politician Aki Ruotsala will not take up his post as CEO of the Pori Jazz festival in August after he made comments suggesting that gay people do not exist and that homosexuality could be cured.

The board of the association behind the festival, Pori Jazz 66 ry, met on Wednesday evening to discuss Ruotsala's views as expressed in an interview with Satakunnan Kansa. In that interview Ruotsala said he does not believe there are homosexuals, only homosexuality, and said that it was similar to drug addiction in that it could be 'fixed'.

Ruotsala had been headhunted for the role and was due to take up his new post on 1 August.

"Pori Jazz completely and unconditionally rejects all kinds of discrimination," said Pori Jazz 66 ry chair Hannu Jaakkola. "We are a discrimination-free and equal festival. These values are shared by the Pori Jazz board and the festival's staff. We apologise to everyone this has affected and offended."

"Decisions like this are not easy, but they're unavoidable in this kind of cultural organisation," said Jaakkola. "If we'd known about his opinions before we would not have appointed him."

Ruotsala said in a statement that the success of the festival was more important than anyone's job, and that he would begin looking for new challenges on Thursday.

The 53rd Pori Jazz festival starts on 14 July, running until 22 July.

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