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LGBT media content policies will remain following Section 377A repeal

LGBT media content policies will remain following Section 377A repeal

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The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has reaffirmed that the government's recent repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code will not affect its policies on media content, and LGBT media content will continue to warrant higher age ratings. "The repeal of Section 377A does not mean that we are changing the tone of society," MCI said.

According to MCI, its content regulatory approach has to be sensitive to societal norms and values, and it will continue to take reference from prevailing societal norms.

Media content is regulated by both MCI and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in order to protect younger audiences from age-inappropriate content, as well as allow mature audiences to make informed choices over a diverse range of content. Additionally, media content with higher reach and impact is subject to more stringent requirements. 

MCI oversees IMDA, which sets content guidelines and classification policies for various platforms comprising films and videos, video games, arts entertainment, TV and radio, publications and audio materials, as well as the Internet. 

Surveys conducted by IMDA consistently show that the majority of the public is supportive of its media classification efforts across various mediums. According to MCI, IMDA also regularly consults its advisory panels comprising members of the public on classification issues and develops the content guidelines in consultation with these panels as well as the industry to ensure its guidelines reflect Singapore's societal norms and values. 

The recent repeal of Section 377a brought about mixed sentiments. Data from Meltwater showed more negative sentiments as compared to positive ones, while Truescope found that a majority (40% to 50%) of those on social media expressed approval and joy towards the decision to repeal Section 377A.

Nonetheless, organisations supporting causes relating to LGBTQ+, including Pink Dot and AWARE Singapore, lauded the repeal of the law. Organisers of Pink Dot said they were relieved by the government’s intention to repeal Section 377A, and said this is a “significant milestone and a powerful statement that state-sanctioned discrimination has no place in Singapore”. Meanwhile, AWARE Singapore also lauded the striking of the law saying that Section 377A served as a primary barrier to dignity and well-being for LGBTQ people in Singapore.

However, Pink Dot organisers explained that any move by the government to introduce further legislation or constitutional amendments that signal LGBTQ+ people as unequal citizens "is disappointing". It also urged the government not to heed recent calls from religious conservatives to enshrine the definition of marriage into a constitution.

Chatter surrounding LGBTQ+ issues have surfaced on both sides of the causeway. In Malaysia, the government and its religious institutions announced that they will restrain content promoting LGBT elements in films and on social media just a few weeks ago. The news came after the government banned the screening of Marvel film Thor: Love and Thunder, which sparked a debate among Malaysians. The film contained LGBT elements, which led to its ban.

Related articles:
MY government plans to curb LGBT content in films and social media
SG govt repeals Section 377A: What's the social chatter like?

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