From Bikya Masr:
KUALA LUMPUR: Gay television characters can be a mode to tolerance and understanding, say Malaysia’s LGBT community. But the government disagrees, and they barred gay television characters from being shown on the country’s airwaves last month, in a move that has activists frustrated that the government is pushing the conservative tide against the community.
“We are facing an uphill battle for acceptance and this ruling will do a lot to continue negative stereotypes of the gay community in Malaysia,” lesbian activist Anita told Bikyamasr.com.
She added that culture is “a strong part of Malaysian society and to not allow gay characters on television will be a negative push toward alienating gay people who are simply wanting to live their lives,” she added, saying a number of activists are petitioning the culture ministry to change its policy.
The ongoing debate stems from the information department overseeing television in the country decision in April to ban TV shows that show gay characters.
The country’s Culture Minister Datuk Maglin Dennis D’Cruz made the decision last month, despite protests from human rights groups and the LGBT community.
The ban became effective immediately with state-owned TV and radio stations, he said. No specifics about which shows will be affected were revealed, but the ban will likely be expanded to cover privately-owned stations as well as satellite TV providers.
“If it means canceling some of the shows, so be it,” he said. The decision was to curb the “influence” of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, he added.
As for foreign productions, he said the Censorship Board will remove indivudual episodes from current TV shows and bar movies with gay characters from being screened locally.
“Effective immediately, radio and TV stations are asked to stop screening shows which feature gay, effeminate men as well as characters that go against the norm of a religious society because this encourages and promotes LGBT now,” said the directive.
That could mean any television show that has an inkling of “gayness” would be removed from Malaysian television, which has sparked controversy on censorship in the country and the future of the LGBT community.
For Anita, it is a sign that “the government wants to make us seem like we are the enemy of morality, and that is a path that could lead to violent backlashes against people in the country.”