Despite Repeal of Section 377A, There Are No Changes to the Rating of LGBTQ+ Media Contents


A key focus of yesterday’s National Day Rally (NDR) was the news of the Government’s decision to repeal Section 377A of the penal code, which criminalises sex between men.

The divisive decision was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsein Long after many years of public and parliamentary debate over the law, with the local LGBTQ community being the most outspoken group in championing for its removal throughout. Though it is a first step forward as a nation for the rights of the LGBTQ community, some governing matters remain fixed despite the legal change.

In his speech, PM Lee had said that the Government had no intention of changing national policies that rely upon the definition of marriage, like public housing, adoption rules, film classification, and advertising standards.

MCI States That The Tone of Media Content Will be Largely Unchanged

“MCI reaffirms the Government’s position that the repeal of Section 377A does not mean that we are changing the tone of society. This position also applies to our policies on media content,” the ministry said in a statement after PM Lee’s announcement.

Along with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), MCI regulates media content in Singapore to protect younger audiences from sensitive or age-inappropriate content through content guidelines and ratings, and enables mature audiences to make informed choices on the content they consume.

“Media content with higher reach and impact is subject to more stringent requirements,” said the ministry.

In efforts to update its understanding of societal views, MCI said that IMDA regularly consults its advisory committees, which comprises of members of the public from all walks of life, to provide their opinion on specific titles, as well as content guidelines and regulations.

Back in June, the Disney’s Pixar film Lightyear received approval to be screened in Singapore with an NC16 rating, while it was banned in several neighbouring countries for having LGBTQ references, with two same-gendered characters sharing a kiss in one scene.

IMDA had said then that the animated film, normally targeted at younger audiences, was given a higher rating because it was the first commercial children’s animation to feature overt homosexual depictions.

The Government Does Not Want to Trigger Wholesale Changes in Society

The longstanding governmental review on whether or not to repeal 377A has been met with pressure on both sides. LGBTQ and advocates alike deem the repeal of the law as a “long overdue move”, while religious conservatives and other opposers have raised concerns over it threatening the current view of marriage under the constitution, which is, between men and women.

“They want to preserve the status quo on how marriage is defined, what children are taught in schools, what is shown on television and in cinemas, and even what is generally acceptable in public,” said PM Lee,

He also added that the government’s intention is not for the the repeal to trigger wholesale changes in society.

Therefore, it was also announced during the NDR that certain elements in the Constitution will be amended in tandem to protect the definition of marriage from being challenged constitutionally in the courts.

“This will help us to repeal S377A in a controlled and carefully considered way. It will limit this change to what I believe most Singaporeans will accept, which is to decriminalise sexual relations between consenting men in private,” he said.

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Featured Image: Jonas Leupe /