Censors ban gay Muslim documentary


Director Parvez Sharma (left) and producer Sandi DuBowski (right)

The groundbreaking documentary A jihad for love has been banned from Singapore, the city-state’s authorities announced recently. An exploration of how gay and lesbian Muslims negotiated their place within their religion, the highly-acclaimed film was originally included in the programming of the Singapore International Film Festival 2008.

According to an AFP report, Board of Film Censors chairman Amy Chua said the film was disallowed because of “the sensitive nature of the subject”.

Director Parvez Sharma wrote on his blog:

We have just received word that the Censor Board in Singapore has refused to approve the film for the Singapore Film Festival. They have in their words ‘disallowed’ it. The Festival was trying very hard to get the film approved by the censors. This small nation, where I have many friends, has a small but significant Muslim minority. In many of the descriptions of this antiseptic shopping paradise, what is often missed is that an almost fascist regime controls every aspect of life. I promise to keep you updated.

Singapore does itself no favours when its moralistic, scissors-happy government generates such publicity. It is completely at variance with its desire to make this place a global city able to attract the best and brightest from around the world, to fuel its touted “knowledge economy.”

The fact is, there are gay and lesbian Muslims, in Singapore as anywhere else – people that Singapore would do well to understand and accept. A jihad for love would have been a wonderful opportunity to begin a conversation about it, but evidently, the government prefers denial.

A singaporean penned a comment on the director’s blog, saying,

Hi Parvez. I’m a blogger from Singapore and I must say I’m ashamed by the ever disgusting censor board. I was really hoping to see your critically-acclaimed work but sadly my hopes are dashed. I’m Muslim and I am gay. There are many of us in this little island. Their decision to censor yet again proves their homophobia and immaturity.

Here is the trailer for the film:

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