Singaporeans sign petition to lower rating for gay romance
Some Singaporeans want rating for gay teen movie changed from R21 to NC-16
Love, Simon, a Hollywood romantic comedy-drama about a gay 17-year-old boy, has been rated R21 here.
It opens on Thursday.
In its film classification online, the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) noted that the "central theme of the film revolves around a homosexual character coming to terms with his identity as a homosexual".
It also said that "stronger and more explicit portrayal and more exploration of mature themes are allowed" only under the R21 Classification Guidelines.
Some Singaporeans are unhappy about the rating, and a petition calling for IMDA to lower the age restriction to NC-16 has garnered more than 18,000 signatures as of last night.
The petition was started on March 11 by Miss Thasha Monique Dharmendra, a student.
She wrote in her petition: "By making Love, Simon NC-16, I am positive that it will have a huge impact on young teenagers struggling to find acceptance from family and friends."
She noted that the movie, directed by Greg Berlanti and starring Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner, had been given lower age restrictions elsewhere.
In the US and the Philippines, the film was declared suitable for moviegoers over the age of 13. In Germany and Finland, it was rated appropriate for all ages. It has been banned in Malaysia.
Those who are pushing for the minimum age to be lowered say the movie does not involve sex or violent scenes like Call Me By Your Name (R21) or Moonlight (M18), both of which had limited screenings here.
Spokesman for Pink Dot Singapore Paerin Choa noted that movies with violence and horror have a lower age restriction in Singapore than Love, Simon, which he called a "story of love and compassion".
"It is so important for LGBT youth to see themselves being represented in media. The R21 rating will deprive the very audience that will benefit most from watching the movie," he said.
Actress Pamela Oei, 46, said she has been involved in local productions that touch on LGBT themes and has seen how art can move people to think, to discuss, to disagree and to empathise.
She signed the petition.
But there are those who feel that IMDA's rating of R21 is justified, including some moviegoers who caught an early screening on April 11.
Mr Kevin Tse, 28, who works in technical support, said: " Singapore is still more conservative about these issues, and we should allow some time for mindsets to change."
Clinical psychologist Carol Balhetchet said: "Teenagers are easily influenced and easily pressured, therefore it is necessary to protect them."
She also noted that many Singaporeans still value the traditional family mould of husband, wife and child.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated that Love, Simon is rated 13 in Malaysia. This is incorrect. The film is banned in Malaysia.