An LGBTQ and religiously-themed Singaporean movie that had its New York premiere this year was outlawed in the city-state because it would “sow social discord,” according to officials.
The Singaporean director Ken Kwek‘s film #LookAtMe “exceeded the film classification criteria” and cannot be screened domestically, the industry watchdog Infocomm Media Development Authority said in a statement on Monday (IMDA).
The movie had its world premiere at the New York Asian Film Festival in July, where it competed for Best Feature and took home a Special Jury prize for Best Performance.
The film “denigrates a religious group and has the potential to generate hostility and social division in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society,” according to IMDA’s statement, which was released jointly with the nation’s culture and interior ministries.
It centers on a lead character who is offended by a male pastor’s position on homosexuality and makes a “incendiary” social media post that becomes popular.
Tensions grow as the main character “plots a revenge assault” on the pastor, who is also depicted as breaking one of his religious beliefs.
According to IMDA, the situation “may be perceived as advocating or condoning violence against the pastor.”
The movie’s production team issued a statement expressing their disappointment with the ruling and their intention to appeal.
“#LookAtMe is a fictional filmic production. The movie aims to amuse viewers and promote dialogue about significant societal issues that are pertinent to Singapore, they stated.
The crew expressed optimism that Singaporeans would be able to see the movie, which it claimed had been chosen for a December screening at the Singapore International Film Festival.
The city-state has a progressive and dynamic culture, yet homophobia is still frowned upon.
The annual Pink Dot gay rights event in Singapore drew sizable audiences, demonstrating the recent growth in support for homosexual rights.
In August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the nation will repeal a colonial-era legislation that criminalized male-to-male sex but would maintain the definition of marriage as including a man and a woman.