People under the age of 21 will not see the critically acclaimed gay coming of age film Love, Simon in Singapore.
Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) slapped the highest classification – R21 -on the film.
That rating means that anyone under the age of 21 will not see the film and that cannot screen in most cinemas in the country.
Love, Simon in an American film about a 17-year-old high schooler’s coming out experience. Some critics have called the film one of the most important LGBTI films ever.
The film contains no full-frontal nudity, violence or sex scenes but was still given the R21 rating.
But the fact that Love, Simon is a gay love story is in fact, a problem for censors.
The MDA strictly calls for any films depicting ‘a homosexual lifestyle’ to ‘be sensitive to community values’.
‘They should not, promote or justify a homosexual lifestyle. However, non-exploitative and non-explicit depictions of sexual activity between two persons of the same gender may be considered for R21,’ state the MDA classification guidelines.
Love, Simon will educate Singaporeans
A Singapore activist, Thasha Monique Dharmendra, has started a petition to change the film’s classification.
She argued the film is a ‘harmless coming of age movie where the main character happens to be gay’.
Dharmendra wants the MDA to change the classification to NC16 so younger LGBTI people can watch it.
‘A young Singaporean teen struggling with their sexuality might find themself relating and finding comfort in this movie,’ Dharmendra wrote in the petition.
‘By making Love, Simon NC16, I am positive that it will have a huge impact on young teenagers struggling to find acceptance from family and friends.’
If the classification is changed, more people will see the film which will ‘educate people that being free and accepted is just what everyone… wants’.
‘Hopefully, it will also change people’s negative perception of the LGBTQ+ community,’ she wrote.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Singapore, where it is very taboo to be LGBTI.
Authorities have made running Pride events very difficult for the community there. Last year, it put a ban on foreign companies donating to the annual Pink Dot SG event.
They then restricted anyone but Singapore nationals and permanent residents from attending. The restrictions didn’t not stop the Pink Dot SG from being a great success. Local companies stepped up to support the event financially and about 20,000 attended on the day.