In Singapore, Gay & Lesbian Group Protests New Game Ratings

April 23, 2008 -
As GamePolitics reported recently, Singapore has adopted a rating system for video games.

While the move seems like a step in the right direction, not everyone is pleased with how the new ratings are to be assigned. People Like Us , which describes itself as "a Singapore gay and lesbian group focused on advocacy and public education" notes that that the government's Media Development Authority (MDA) lumps homosexuality with crime in an "Adult Theme" rating category:
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 any more 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.

The group reminds readers that Singapore's brief 2007 ban on Mass Effect was prompted by the game's rather mild lesbian sex scene (below). 

It would appear that Singapore's government is not especially tolerant in regard to its GLBT citizens. We note that People Like Us has informal group status in Singapore. Its website maintains that the government's Registrar of Societies refused to grant registration in 1997 and again in 2004.

Via: GayGamer


"And why is sexuality of any kind not worthy of “Adult theme”? Is heterosexuality given the same treatment?"

Homosexuality is not the same as explicit sex, just as heterosexuality isn't. Homosexuality in general can mean the presence of a gay couple, or even just a gay character.

Even with more or less explicit sex, many people have a double standard - witness the reaction to the lesbian scene in Mass Effect, which was in no way different from the hetero sex scene, except for the genders of the persons involved.

@Dark Sovereign

Actually there were anti-sodomy laws in the United States for years. In fact I'm pretty sure some States still have them.

actually, from what i understand, in many states its illegal to engage in any position other than missionary.

I disagree with "teaching diversity" since that separates a group from the general herd, instead of treating them like equals. And why is sexuality of any kind not worthy of "Adult theme"? Is heterosexuality given the same treatment?

[...] wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptAs GamePolitics reported recently, Singapore has adopted a rating system for video games. While the move seems like a step in the right direction, not everyone is pleased with how the new ratings are to be assigned. People Like Us , which describes itself as “a Singapore gay and lesbian group focused on advocacy and public education” notes that that the government’s Media Development Authority (MDA) lumps homosexuality with crime in an “Adult Theme” rating category: 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 any more 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. [...]

@Dark Sovereign

it really depends on how it's handled, for example we'll take a non sexual act of affection such as a simple kiss, if it takes place between a male and a female, most people tend to ignore it, however, if it takes place between 2 males it gets likened to homosexual acts, (see Jack complaining of gay sex in bully)

to be completely honest they have a point, a sexual orientation alone is not really enough to justify an adult theme, however, i would say that the scenes in Mass Effect do justify an adult theme (lesbian issue aside)

Oh, I just took a look at the website. Apparently, this is the list of content that will earn a game an "adult" rating:

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

Note that sexually explicit content is included - but homosexuality is included separately as "adult themes". That would seem to confirm that even the presence of a gay character would be considered "adult content".

@Dark Sovereign
From what i gather from it they are not talking about Gay sex, but gay sexual orientation; in other words, gay relationships, kissing and so forth. Apparently, it's alright to be straight, but not to be gay. From what i can guess, it sounds like stuff like drugs, crime, sex, etc would be the kind of stuff that could give a game a higher rating, and the group is saying that the presence of a gay relationship, even if there is no sex, would do the same; where as a straight relationship would not get nearly as harsh treatment unless it actually included sex in the relationship. that's what i gather from all that


Alright, I concede that point, but the question remains. If heterosexuality is given the same treatment in the ratings system, and as far as I can tell, it is (information is sadly lacking), then there should be no complaint here.

Here's there website, and there's a whole section on homosexual mistreatment, so it seems that they aren't being treated equally:


dammit, "their"

This is the first time I've seen that scene, I knew it was pretty mild, but I've seen steamer stuff on Prime-time network TV.


You also don't have to be a girl to get it.

Kinda have to agree with their point.
Sexual scenes of any type should be adult rated, but homosexual kissing should be treated the same as heterosexual kissing, sure it may seem distasteful to some, but it's the same level of intimacy, therefore deserving of the same level of treatment.

Well, it basicly goes back to sex as AO. Yes, straights are given same treatment. Need I remind anyone of Hot Coffee? But gays cry foul when people tell them to be decent. I've been asked to stop kissing my wife, when we were in public, but gays are given that privilege, claiming they had the same right as everyone else. Gays always claim their rights are getting tread upon when forced to stoop to our level.

this has nothing whatsoever to do with gay 'privilege.' the policy jacks up the age rating of games that feature gay kissing or relationships and DOES NOT give the same treatment to straight depictions. Singapore is a fascist regime and practically refuses to acknowledge gays or gay relationships as legitimate in any way. the group that brought this complaint has been refused recognition as an organization by the singaporean gov't.

Does anyone know how Singapore got this way?


Nice find, look at some of the ESRB stuff,we can have 1 oe 2 mature level stuff in a T level game, so it depends on the populace and their mindset or the mindset of the ones that try and herd the region will slot anything with a non ultra vague gay/lez theme to mature.

All in all its kinda silly

@Dark Sovereign

I'm not quite sure what you're referring to.... But being a singaporean.. I have to assure you that for as long as I know... The government here has been as ban-happy as ever..

Plus their whole ideal of having a heterosexual family unit kinda makes them tend to want to sweep alternative-lifestyles under the rug or into the closet out of sight... =/


So those things that are listed are what gives it an adult rating in Singapore, and at the very least a Mature rating in America. And yet more than half of the items on that list, maybe all but the actual nudity, can be found on nearly any television show open to the public or a PG to PG-13 rated movie. And certainly any book with that kind of content can be purchased by anyone.

Not too long ago a girl in my German class had a book and the front cover was a naked woman lying in bed. The thing is, it was OK for her to have this because it was "art." But I'm positive that if someone brought in a video game case that had the same cover and had it sitting out on their desk they'd be taken to the principals office for sure.

@ Vake Xeacons


First, discrimination against homosexuality is so ingrained in society it goes far beyond instances of PDA. Everywhere, they are viewed or treated as 'the other', in the sense that there is always a perception of difference that goes beyond how you and I are different as individuals or how people might be different racially. It is the sense that they don't belong, that they are always perceived with a different gaze.

Going to your example, people might tell you and your wife to stop kissing because they are annoyed by PDA/are just prude, but they'll tell a same-sex couple to stop kissing for a very different reason altogether. It is the perception that somehow it is wrong on a very fundamental level that most can't even explain what it is. Hell, in many places, anal sex is considered a crime. It is the perception that heterosexuality is the norm and homosexuality is a deviation that is at best tolerated.

When homosexual couples are allowed to marry, to adopt kids, etc. then maybe you can give your speech about how 'Gays always claim their rights are getting tread upon when forced to stoop to our level'.


Where is anal sex illegal? I don't know of that law in any of the states, since heterosexual couples do it too. And the sense of "the other" is often put out by both the oppressed and the oppressor.



AAHHH!!! *runs*

Shadow: Sheesh! Anyway, yeah, he has a point. JT would be all sorts of homophobic if he saw this.

Personally, I can tolerate gays and lesbians. I have two friends that happen to be lesbians, though they don't know each other. Though, my only concern with the gays is that I wish they would respect the fact that I'm straight. Other than that, I'm cool with them.

I have to say, classifying two video game characters of the same gender kissing as AO is just f***ed up.

"The Other Shadow": THOSE FOOLS!!!

Shadow: OUT, DAMMIT!!

T.O.S.: GAH!!! *flees*

Shadow: Cripes!

@Jack Wessels

Just checked, and the Supreme Court ruled that sodomy is constitutionally protected in 2003.

@Dark Sovereign

Yeah, I just looked it up too. But that was federally mandated. If it wasn't for that over a dozen states would still have it illegal.

@Jack Wessels

Thank God for the Supreme Court, then.


Shadow: Dude, I will lock you up for keeps if you don't knock it off.

T.O.S.: Meep! *flees*


Are you aruging with yourself or am I missing a reference...

@ DraginHikari
I think he is parodying people who like THEIR own freedom but are wiling to trample on others freedom which they disagree with.

Singapore and all homophobics , plus people who only like their own freedom need to grow up. If they are not trying to have an effect on you physically or mentally then you just have to deal with it.


You should know better than trying to engage into that futile discussion.

@Jack Wessels

What does it say about "the land of the free" that it was only five years ago these minor acts occurring within a private bedroom were protected?

Just to clarify, while sodomy (anal or oral sex) was technically illegal, the only way to charge someone was to catch them in the act. The assumption was that straight people wouldn't do this (wink wink nudge nudge). Unless they were in public, they were probably safe. The supreme court decision was prompted, I do believe, by raids on houses of several homosexual couples at times when they were intimately engaged. I remember one instance where the police obtained a warrant to search for illegal guns that one man supposedly owned and caught the couple. If I remember correctly, there were no guns. So, while the laws technically applied to straight people as well as non straight people, "sodomy" was basically a fill in for homosexuality.

I feel bad for the Queer Community in Singapore... how much must it suck to have your life regulated into the equivalent of a bank robbery?

@ Tristram

I know, but it beats studying Kant...

@ Vake Xeacons

Okay, until 2003, sodomy was illegal in 14 states. In Missouri, Texas, and Kansas same-sex sodomy was illegal. These laws were uniformily repealed after a 2003 Supreme Court decision. 2003 was not that long ago.

You're right, there is a sense in which homosexual individuals contribute to differentiating themselves from the 'mainstream' culture. However, this isn't the least bit surprising considering how long they've been alienated from 'mainstream' culture at large. Moreover, mant -- if not most -- homosexuals don't contribute to this 'otherization'.

There is also a sense in which a larger statement is being made by so-called 'flamers'. The intention is to shock those who would dismiss them out-of-hand as a fringe group and make their presence known and felt so that society can no longer ignore their existence and sweep them under the rug. By making it an issue, they bring to the forefront discussions about same-sex marriage and issues regarding adoption (5 States in which same-sex adoption is illegal; most are ambiguous). As well, does homophobic statements or literature count as hate-speech? Can one be discriminated against (in the legal sense) on the basis of sexual preference?

But hey, as long as your narrow world-view is preserved, who cares. Right?

Whoooops. I meant @ Dark Soveriegn, not @ Vake Xeacons.

@Vake Xeacons

"I’ve been asked to stop kissing my wife, when we were in public, but gays are given that privilege, claiming they had the same right as everyone else."
Who is making you stop kissing your wife? If there is no law against it then it was your choice to stop kissing her. If where you live there actually are laws stopping opposite sex kissing but allowing the same sex to then they are unfair and should be corrected, preferably in a permissive direction. I expect there aren't though, otherwise LGB people wouldn't have any reason to suggest they have the same rights as heterosexuals.

"Gays always claim their rights are getting tread upon when forced to stoop to our level."
Why should I have to put up with the effects of other people willingly giving up their (and everybody elses) rights and freedoms? More to the point why do we all have to listen to people like you complaining about the situation, instead of you trying to help improve it for everybody by working towards everyone having the freedom that you think only a small group has.

haha "the gays"
get over yourself, Vake.

I wish I could say I was suprised, but even in western democracies, it wasn't long ago that homosexuality was a prosecutable offence. The legendary Alan Turing, whose contrabutions to discrete math and computer science was intrumental in bringing down the third reich, was driven to suicide by the government he helped save by persecution for being gay. Talk about ungratitude.


Pardon, but I have a narrow worldview? What do you know about what I think? I personally think that there is no reason that gays shouldn't have the same rights as straights, but I still think it's stupid to accuse people of treating you as "the other" when you make yourself out to be "the other".

ok, i would like to retract my earlier statement, i didnt bother to research it, most ppl around here just assumed it was still illegal( ive asked around).

Singapore has been ban-happy ever since 1965, in an effort to control the population to do the will of a collective few. No one cares, because they simply do not care, either out of fear or indifference (a remnant of our colonial days that has sadly remained).

Freedom of speech is severely limited, the news media is somewhat controlled by the government (as of yet unproved), when voting, it feels closer to just a sham rather than a true democracy (mostly because the outcome is determined way before any true elections are determined), disgraced people who hold a high rank (read: President or Member of Parliament) are conveniently exiled or shamed (and then slowly written off the books only to be given a summary exhortation only when they die) and I expect freedom of religion to go within the next 10 to 20 years.

It is with a detached sense of irony that I note that freedom of religion has lasted for so long.

I personally do not agree with the treatment, btw, for it conflicts with my beliefs. Yes, I personally think homosexuality is wrong and unnatural, but that does not mean anyone should treat GLBTs like criminals. In other words, THEY'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Shouldn't we treat GLBTs like human beings, because, I dunno, THEY ARE?
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Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
MattsworknameIn tv, and radio, ratings are how it works. your ratings determine how well you do and how much money you an charge.07/28/2015 - 9:02pm
Mattsworknameexpect to do so without someone wanting to hold you to task for it07/28/2015 - 9:00pm
MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
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Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
MattsworknameDitto kotaku, Gawker, VOX, Polygon, ETC07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
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Andrew EisenHave gamers ever tried to ban a product? Can you be more specific? I'm not clear what you're getting at.07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
Mattsworknamethey should have expected some kind of blow back. But I didn't participate in that specific action07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MattsworknameAndrew Youd have to ask others about that, I actualyl didn't have much beef with them till last year, so I can't speak to there history. I simply feel that gamesutra chose politics over gaming and chose to make enimies of it's prime audiance. For that,07/28/2015 - 8:40pm
Andrew EisenI'm still not clear on how Gamasutra was lacking in accountability or what it was lacking in accountability for.07/28/2015 - 8:38pm
MattsworknameAndrew: You and I agree on most of that. I don't diagree that there should ahve been other actions taken. Now, I do want to point something out, casue Im not sure if it's happened. Have gamers ever tried to have a product banned?07/28/2015 - 8:37pm
Mattsworknameimproperly. Neither is good, but one is on the edge of censorship to me, while the other is demanding some level of accountability from public media provider. but thats just my view point07/28/2015 - 8:36pm
MattsworknameEZK: You can treat it as bullying or what not, As I've pointed out, I didn't like either practice, I made that clear. But I do hold some different between trying to pull a product from the shelves, and calling out a media outlet that you feel has acted07/28/2015 - 8:35pm
E. Zachary KnightMatt, So you feel confident enough to make the call that petitioning target to remove GTAV is "bullying and threatening" but not confident enough to make the call on Intel/Gamasutra. Finding it hard to take your gripes seriously.07/28/2015 - 8:27pm
Andrew EisenAs for gamers holding media sites accountable? If you mean, how to respond to opinion pieces you disagree with, yes, there are tons of more appropriate means.07/28/2015 - 8:27pm
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