Guardian: Singapore TV fined for showing gay couple (April 25)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Singapore TV fined for showing gay couple

* Ian MacKinnon, south-east Asia correspondent
* Friday April 25 2008

Even as Singapore tries to shed its straight-laced image, one facet of life remains beyond the pale: homosexuality on television.

The city state's government-owned broadcaster was fined £5,500 for airing a lifestyle programme featuring a gay couple with their adopted baby.

The state regulator, the Media Development Authority, said the January 13 episode of the home decor show, Find and Design, "normalises and promotes a gay lifestyle".

It followed the hit programme's host as he helped the gay couple transform their games room into a nursery for their new baby, which was shown in several scenes.

The presenter congratulated them on their "unconventional family setup", a breach of the free-to-air TV Code that bans shows that "promote, justify or glamorise gay lifestyles".

The offence was compounded by the fact that it was aired at 7.30am on a Sunday, deemed inappropriate as it fell within family viewing hours.

It was the second breach of the code by MediaCorp TV. Last year it was fined £1,700 for depicting a kissing scene between two lesbians in the drama series, Without a Trace.

Earlier this month the authority fined cable television operator StarHub £3,500 for screening an advert that showed two women kissing.

Homosexuality is still illegal in Singapore. But in October last year the government declared that private, consensual, adult homosexual sex would no longer be prosecuted.

However, the offence remains on the statute book and anyone convicted of "an act of gross indecency" could face up to two years in jail.

There have few prosecutions for gay sex, though the authorities have banned homosexual festivals and censored films, not wishing to be seen to condone it as a lifestyle choice.

Before 2003, homosexuals were barred from "sensitive positions" in Singapore's civil service, a provision removed by the former prime minister, Goh Chok Tong.