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No ban on X-Men comic due to ‘balanced treatment of gay marriage’

The Media Development Board said it reviewed the Astonishing X-Men Issue 51 in 2012, and found there was "balanced treatment" since there were characters who objected to the wedding between Northstar and Kyle Jinadu.

SINGAPORE: An Archie comic book which featured a gay marriage was removed from local bookstores earlier this year, but another comic with a similar theme — Astonishing X-Men Issue 51 — can still be found on the shelves.

This is because the X-Men comic, published by Marvel Comics in 2012, offered a balanced treatment of the issue, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) told TODAY.

In the X-Men comic, gay superhero character Northstar marries his partner Kyle Jinadu — a plotline similar to Archie: The Married Life Volume Three, which was removed from bookstore chain Kinokuniya in March. Archie: The Married Life features the marriage of Kevin Keller, the popular series’ first openly gay character.

Referring to X-Men Issue 51, an MDA spokesman said: “The issue featured characters who objected to the wedding and this offered a balanced treatment on the issue of gay marriage.”

The spokesman added that there was no breach of content guidelines, “which allow for the balanced depictions of same-sex relationships if they do not encourage or promote alternative lifestyles”. The statutory board had assessed the X-Men comic in 2012 after receiving public feedback and queries from its importer.

“The MDA takes a holistic view in assessing content and considers all factors, including the context, presentation and language. While themes may seem similar on the surface, depictions and context often vary across different works,” the spokesman said in response to queries from this newspaper.

TODAY understands that local bookstore chain Kinokuniya carries Astonishing X-Men Issue 51 in its Orchard branch.

The MDA said it had also advised the distributor that the comic should be “shrink-wrapped and labelled with the consumer advice “Unsuitable for the Young”.

Reports of the Archie comic book being pulled from local bookstores surfaced two weeks ago, although the comic is still available in the National Library Board’s adults’ collection.

The MDA had said earlier that the decision on the Archie comic book was made after consultation with its 28-member Publications Consultative Panel. “Its members advised that the theme of the comic was not in line with social norms and is in breach of existing content guidelines,” it had said.

The MDA said the importation and distribution of publications here are largely self-regulated and book retailers can refer to its website for a set of content guidelines for imported publications.

The authority also reviews public feedback or complaints and takes action on a case-by-case basis if its guidelines are breached, the spokesman said.

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