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LGBT content will continue to warrant higher age ratings even as Government repeals 377A: MCI

Policies on media content will not change after the law that criminalises gay sex is repealed, says the Ministry of Communications and Information.

SINGAPORE: LGBT media content will continue to warrant higher age ratings even as the Singapore Government moves to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code, said the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) on Monday (Aug 22). 

Responding to media queries after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's announcement that the law which criminalises sex between men will be repealed, MCI reaffirmed the Government's position that this "does not mean that we are changing the tone of society". 

"This position also applies to our policies on media content," said MCI.

The ministry noted that authorities regulate media content to protect younger audiences from age-inappropriate content, while enabling mature audiences to make informed choices over a range of content. 

"Media content with higher reach and impact is subject to more stringent requirements," it added.

To understand the community's views, the ministry said the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) regularly consults its advisory committees, made up of members of the public from all walks of life, on specific titles as well as content guidelines and regulations.

"Our content regulatory approach has to be sensitive to societal norms and values," said MCI.

"We will continue to take reference from prevailing norms. LGBT media content will continue to warrant higher age ratings."


Under IMDA's content code for television, for example, it is stated that service providers should bear in mind the importance of the family as the basic unit of society, and that the institution of marriage should be respected.  

In its assessment of films, IMDA takes into consideration several factors, including violence, nudity and sex. 

The content code states that films that depict "alternative sexualities" such as homosexuality "should be sensitive to community values". 

"Films that centre on alternative sexualities may be classified at (the) highest rating of R21. Non-explicit depictions of sexual activity between persons of the same gender may be featured at R21 rating," the code states, referring to content restricted to people aged 21 and above.

A rating of M18 - restricted to people aged 18 and above - may be given to a film with homosexual themes or content as a subplot, "if discreet in treatment and not gratuitous".

"Homosexual theme or content as a sub-plot, if discreet in treatment and not gratuitous.  

Under the Films Act, content which will not be allowed include those with "the promotion of homosexuality" and "excessive depiction of sexual activity between individuals of the same gender".

In June, the Disney animated film Lightyear was released in Singapore with an NC16 rating for its "overt homosexual depictions". 

The film, which featured a same-sex couple, contained "some depictions of a female lead character and her partner starting a family and going through different milestones of their lives", IMDA said at the time. 

It was the first children’s animated film to be given an NC16 rating in Singapore over LGBTQ content.

IMDA said that Disney, the film’s distributor, had turned down the option of releasing two versions of the movie under a dual-rating system that would have allowed a younger audience to watch a lower-rated version.

Source: CNA/lk(gs)


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