A Singapore TV broadcast about the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing with two men kissing in the background has gone viral in the country where consensual same-sex sex remains criminalized.
A CNA reporter was covering the opening ceremony from a bar full of cheering fans in Beijing on February 4 when two men in the background stole the show by kissing during the live broadcast. The public and the internet applauded the kiss and hailed it as a challenge to Singapore’s discriminatory law against the LGBTQ community.
Singapore has a restricted broadcast code for LGBTQ content.
The country’s colonial-era law that criminalizes relations between two men can result in up to two years in prison. The law does not apply to lesbians.
The clip of the kiss has since gone viral in Singapore.
It has been viewed around 1.5 million times on TikTok. CNA posted the edited version of the report on its website, but it now appears the channel has removed the report from its website.
CNA did not respond to request for comment on the matter.
“I was quite surprised that the CNA gay kissing clip went viral,” said Benjamin Xue, co-founder of Youth Out Here, a support group for LGBTQ youth in Singapore. “It’s rare to find affirming forms of LGBTQ+ representation here in the free-to-air TV landscape. The clip largely went viral because of TikTok, not so much local news.
The clip is also available on YouTube, where it has been viewed over 4,500 times.
“An absolute legend,” commented one YouTube user.
After the kiss was over, a man looked at the camera, which became an encouraging theme for many. This was seen as an act of defiance of the country’s discriminatory law.
“I don’t know if the two men kissing are Singaporeans, but it seems intentional the way one of them looked directly at the camera in an act of defiance,” Dr Martha Tara Lee said. , a relationship counselor and clinical sexologist in Singapore. . “It’s made international news, and it’s important for the world and Singaporeans to know that it’s not right to make life difficult for our LGBTQ friends.”
Comments on the viral TikTok clip of the kiss largely discussed the “last look” given by one of the men to the camera.
“His face. He knew what he was doing,” one user commented on TikTok.
“We should be open minded because the weather has changed,” another user said.
One user went on to say it was an “act of revolution”.
“In Singapore, our mainstream media has never been more receptive to LGBTQ+ topics. LGBTQ+ (issues) are reported in our news or shows, but it’s usually in stereotypical and negative forms – either as criminals sex workers, paedophiles, drug addicts, topless rave party queers, effeminate characters, drag queens, etc.,” said William Tan, property advisor for the Singapore LGBTQ community. “The media authority’s directive is that we should not be seen promoting a positive LGBTQ+ lifestyle. What we’re trying to change here is that traditional public mindset and push for positive representation of LGBTQ+ people in public spaces.
Infocomm Media Development Authority’s Code of Broadcasting Regulations, overseen by Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information, describes LGBTQ content as “alternative sexuality” and “content should be sensitive to family values”. The broadcasting code also states that content depicting homosexuality will be rated R21 or strictly for adults 21 or older.
Pro-LGBTQ speeches made by high profile celebrities have been censored in the country under strict broadcasting regulations.
The country edited the Ellen DeGeneres show on which former President Obama appeared and praised her for the work she has done as a gay entertainment icon.
“Censorship of our LGBTQ lives should not be an issue in 2022. LGBTQ people exist here in Singapore and are part of the Singaporean fabric of society,” Xue said. “We are frontline workers in hospitals, teachers in schools and public servants who keep this country running. We are also taxpaying citizens who should be a future to prosper, not just to survive.
Mohit Kumar (Ankush) is a freelance journalist who has covered different stories including the 2020 US election and women’s rights issues. He has also covered NASA, European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency and enjoys helping people. Mohit is on Twitter at @MohitKopinion and reachable at [email protected].