An uproar erupted online over the show, which aired in April and May, with critic Teo Yu Sheng describing the portrayals as "extremely harmful to the LGBTQ+ community. (Shutterstock/BrAt82)
Singapore's state-owned broadcaster has apologized after facing a storm of criticism on social media and from LGBT groups for its homophobic portrayal of a gay character in a TV drama.
While the city-state is modern in many ways, attitudes towards the LGBT community remain conservative and sex between men is still illegal under colonial-era legislation -- although the law is rarely enforced.
The show, "My Guardian Angels", featured a basketball coach who has a sexually transmitted disease and molests a teenage boy, while other characters displayed homophobic behavior.
An uproar erupted online over the show, which aired in April and May, with critic Teo Yu Sheng describing the portrayals as "extremely harmful to the LGBTQ+ community.
"It perpetuates the stereotype that gay men are predatory pedophiles with STD," wrote Teo on his business's Instagram account, which sells LGBT-themed merchandise.
[Note: Feel free to repost this comic, but remember to tag @mediacorp and @ch8sg in the photo] . In April 2020, @mediacorp @ch8sg released a prime-time TV show “My Guardian Angels / 单翼天使”. For some bizarre reason, Mediacorp decided to include a gay character in the show, and portrayed him as a predatory paedophile who also has STD. This paedophilic subplot wasn’t just a small scene: Mediacorp spent 7 episodes fleshing out its story arc. This portrayal of a gay character is extremely harmful to the LGBTQ+ community, because it perpetuates the stereotype that gay men are predatory paedophiles with STD. Since positive portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters appear to be prohibited, Mediacorp’s negative stereotypes of the LGBTQ+ community will likely never be compensated with positive portrayals. When Mediacorp became aware of their mistake, they offered no apology. In their official response, Mediacorp claimed that they had no intention to discriminate any community, and went on to provide excuses for their negative stereotypes. To be clear, no apology was given. We call on @mediacorp and @ch8sg to do the following: 1. Make a proper apology to the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore. . 2. Pledge to stop creating negative portrayals of the LGBTQ+ community. . Chase Tan (who is not managed under Mediacorp), the actor who played the role of the paedophile, has officially apologised for his involvement in this discriminatory portrayal. Yet Mediacorp and Channel 8 have remained silent, as do the actors under their management @kym_ng and @brandon_wong_jy. This speaks volumes about the kind of values they appear to hold as a company, and the kind they may impose onto the actors under their charge. Their attitude towards discrimination and mistakes is deeply disappointing. The talents, crew, and audience members in Singapore deserve better. . . . #heckinunicorn #mediacorp #channel8 #mediacorpch8 #singapore #singapore🇸🇬 #representationmatters #discrimination #stopdiscrimination #mediarepresentation #censorship #censorshipisreal #kymng #brandonwong #imda #saysorry #apologise #apologisenow #mediacorpsg #chasetan
NGO Action for AIDS also called on broadcaster Mediacorp, which produced the drama, to end homophobic portrayals of gay men.
"Propagating distorted stories over the most popular free-to-air channels is unbecoming and highly irresponsible, and further deepens discrimination and stigma against LGBT people," it said.
On Monday Mediacorp commented on Teo's posts, saying that there was "no intention to disrespect or discriminate against any persons or community".
"We are sorry if we have offended anyone or caused any distress."
Guidelines regulating TV content in Singapore say it should not "promote homosexual lifestyles."
Open support for gay rights has grown in recent years, and the city-state hosts a pride rally every year.
But campaigners say progress is slow -- in March, the latest bid to overturn the law banning gay sex was dismissed by a court.
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