From 28 April 2008, videogames with “homosexual themes” cannot be sold to anyone under 18, announced the Media Development Authority (MDA) on 14 April. A new rating system will come into effect that day, under which the “Mature 18″ category is meant for games with:

Violence: Realistic depiction
Sex: Sex with some nudity
Nudity: Topless or occasional full frontal nudity
Language: Frequent use of strong coarse language
Drug use: Realistic depiction
Adult themes: Crime and homosexuality

People Like Us considers this new rule unjustifiably strict. Children should not have to be kept ignorant about the presence of gay people in society anymore than they should be shielded from people of other faiths and ethnicities. The path to acceptance of gay people is through teaching children about diversity from a young age.

It is pejorative to lump gay sexual orientation with crime and drug use as the MDA’s new guidelines do, as if gay orientation is some kind of social threat.

There may be case for rating sex scenes, but gay sex scenes should be rated in the same way as heterosexual sex scenes. Hence, while the criterion of “Sex with some nudity” for the Mature 18 rating may not be unacceptable – though People Like Us would point out the contradiction between 18 as the rating’s minimum age and 16 as the age of consent for straight sex in Singapore – the special singling out of homosexuality (even without a sex scene) for this category is discriminatory and unacceptable. The latter seems to mean that any videogame with out and proud gay characters would also be rated Mature 18.

In late 2007, the MDA banned the videogame Mass Effect on the grounds that it contained a lesbian sex scene. After an outcry that pointed out how ridiculous it was for Singapore to be the only country in the world to ban a game that can be downloaded from the Internet, the MDA reversed its position to give Mass Effect an interim Mature 18 rating.

It is instructive for the public to see the actual scene in question and know for themselves how unexploitative the depiction really was. This videoclip below from the game will give viewers a sense of how unreasonable the MDA is.

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