State-run TV in Malaysia to ‘ban’ programmes featuring gay characters

Mustafa Ali (R), Fadzil Noor (C) and Mahfuz Omar (L). UPALI ATURUGIRI/AFP/Getty Images

The Malaysian Information Department has banned television shows which feature gay characters, starting with state-run channels.
The country’s Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Maglin Dennis D’Cruz said the ban would be effective immediately beginning with state-owned TV and radio stations.

Mr D’Cruz said: “If it means cancelling some of the shows, so be it.” He added that the intention behind the move was to curb the “influence” of the LGBT community in Malaysia.

The decision will apparently be later expanded to cover privately-owned stations as well as satellite TV providers. Foreign productions will be dealt with by the national censorship board, which will remove episodes from TV shows which are already up-and-running and prevent the local screening of films with gay characters.

Issued by the Information Department on its Facebook page yesterday, the directive stated: “Effective immediately, radio and TV stations are asked to stop screening shows which feature gay, effeminate men as well as characters that go against the norm of a religious society because this encourages and promotes LGBT now.”

For a short while, there was a rumour that the directive was merely a “discussion topic” but the Culture Minister confirmed it was a genuine edict and that guidelines would be produced for TV and radio stations on how to avoid allowing LGBT characters on screen or the air waves.

This news comes in the same week that Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced funding to enable counsellors to tackle “sexual orientation disorders like LGBT”.