The local edition of famed fashion magazine Vogue has repeatedly been found to be in breach of government content guidelines and, as a result, had its one-year permit revoked yesterday.
The magazine then reapplied for a new permit but was granted one lasting just six months.
In a Straits Times article, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said that Vogue Singapore violated their content guidelines on four occasions within the past two years by including nudity and content that “promoted non-traditional families”.
The exact content that violated MCI’s standards has not been revealed. Although Vogue Singapore does not feature explicit nudity, Infocomm Media Development Authority’s content guidelines notes that semi-nude models with breasts or genitals covered by “hands, materials or objects” are also forbidden.
As for the part about content promoting “non-traditional” families? That is code for content that portrays queer or LGBTQ+ relationships in a positive light.
MCI said part of the permit’s conditions is that the magazine content should not undermine Singapore’s prevailing social norms.
You and whose agenda?
On Aug 21, Section 377a of the Penal Code was abolished, decriminalizing sex between men in Singapore. But while the law has been repealed, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was quick to note that the government has no intention of allowing for same-sex marriage or changing its policies relating to public housing, education, adoption, advertising and film classification.
He also stated that the laws will maintain society’s “prevailing norms and values.”
In the wake of 377a’s repeal, MCI also released a statement that it would not make any changes to its guidelines regarding LGBTQ+ content.
Those guidelines have led to Singapore routinely censoring media that normalizes the portrayal of LGBT+ families in a positive light. For example, in 2008 Singapore’s state-owned television network was fined for promoting and normalizing a “gay lifestyle” by airing a home and decor programme aired that featured a team helping a same-sex couple decorate their baby’s nursery. Earlier this year, before 377a was repealed, the Disney animated film Lightyear was smacked with an NC-16 rating for a brief depiction of same-sex parents.
Why does the government remain so committed to censoring positive LGBTQ+ representation in the media? Perhaps its because they know how powerful its effect can be. Many sociologists have credited TV shows such as Will & Grace and Modern Family with the rapid shift in opinion in favor of gay marriage in the United States.
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