BBC News: Singapore censor passes Brokeback

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Brokeback Mountain has been passed in its entirety by the film censors in Singapore, in spite of the country's stringent laws against homosexuality.

The Oscar-nominated film will be restricted to cinema-goers over the age of 21 and will carry a "mature theme, sexual scenes" warning.

Singapore's media content director said Ang Lee's film was passed as it did not "promote or glamorise the lifestyle".

Gay sex is punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment in the country.

"As the entire film focuses on and revolves round the issue of homosexuality, the Board of Film Censors decided to rate it R21," said Amy Hua from the Media Development Authority.

Singaporean film critic Wong Lung Hsiang said that Brokeback Mountain is "not very controversial".


"The two characters suffer a lot, the film is very tragic, it wins sympathy from the audience," he said.

Singaporean gay rights activists are hailing the decision as a sign that censorship is being relaxed.

"This shows they are willing to give more scope for homosexuality to be examined as an issue in popular culture," said Russell Heng, founder of gay support group People Like Us.

Singapore has attempted to relax controls in an effort to market itself as an arts and media centre.

But in 2004, Taiwanese film Formula 17, which was about two teenage boys falling in love, was banned because it portrayed homosexuality as "normal, and a natural progression of society".

In 2002, a scene in The Hours, which depicted two women kissing, was cut.

New cinema ratings were introduced in 2004 in a bid to relax film censorship in Singapore and give adults greater choice over what they were able to watch.