People who read my blog knows I’m very understanding to the Singapore government’s position on the gay rights issue. Politicians dislike taking up position that goes against the wishes of the general public and Singaporeans are mostly conservative on this issue. So I can understand the government’s position on the LGBT rights; I have far less sympathy on their position on censorship.
According to reports, Mediacorp censored a segment on the popular daytime talk show Ellen. In that segment, the openly gay Ellen DeGeneres was speaking to U.S President Barack Obama about gay rights progression. When the episode was shown in Singapore on Feb 23th, the segment was cut.
When asked about this, Mediacorp admitted they censored the segment and said this was due to the Singapore government’s censorship rules on the broadcast of gay rights issues. What about the offending segment in question? Well, it was a segment lasting about 20 seconds where President Obama thanked Ellen for her dedication to LGBT rights. Also a later segment where the President’s wife, Michelle Obama, wished DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi “Happy Valentine’s Day” was also cut from the broadcast. Needless to say, the Americans are less than impressed and honestly, so am I.
Come on Mediacorp, its one thing to fear falling foul to the government censors but to censor the President of the United States of America and his wife? Are you guys for real? Not counting how innocent that segment was (see it on Youtube), common sense tells you not to censor the President of the most powerful country in the world unless the matter is of vital importance. The gay rights issue is hardly one of these issues.
It’s so stupid the whole thing beggar belief. I don’t see this as a gay rights issue, but a censorship matter. I can understand Mediacorp being gun-shy after getting fined by the Media Development Authority (MDA) in 2008 for a similar offence but this is the Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America. It tells you how afraid people in the media are of the Singapore censors when they are willing to self-censor themselves and censor the President of the United States of America over a non-issue like gay rights.
The real kick of the whole thing? The gay rights issues is actually now getting more play in the media due to this stupid censorship row. If the censorship rules are in place to prevent growing the gay rights issue, then I think it’s fair to say the Singapore government has just scored an own goal.