This Olympic gay kiss challenges censorship and criminalization

We’ve probably seen similar images during a news blooper reel, people camera bombing behind the reporter during a live news report. This time, the kiss signaled something bigger than just a kiss. 

Channel News Asia is a 24-hour multinational news television channel headquartered in Singapore. Vice News shared that Channel News Asiareporter Low Minmin was reporting on the atmosphere during the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Doing a field report, she visited a local pub holding a watch party. While reporting live from the pub, two men enter the frame behind her and begin kissing passionately. They then give a knowing smile to the camera and exit. 

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Who are the two men? Pranksters? Protesters? Either is a possibility. 

The significance of the action lies in the fact that Singapore still has Section 377A in the country’s penal code. The law, a holdover from British colonialism, gives a sentence of up to two years in jail for “gross indecency.” That makes Singapore one of 69 countries with laws that criminalize LGBTQ people and their relationships. 

Singapore’s criminalization partners with a censorship law that prohibits "contents which depict or propagate sexual perversions such as homosexuality, lesbianism." 

Due to censorship laws, this kiss could not normally be aired or depicted on Singapore television. And the kiss was edited out of the clip posted to the Channel News Asia website. By staging the kiss during a live news broadcast from Beijing, the Singapore population, including LGBTQ Singaporeans, witnessed something to which they are regularly denied access. 

Section 377A has survived court challenges so far. Three men have waged a legal battle to have the law declared unconstitutional, but in 2020, Singapore’s high court dismissed the case. 

"This kiss, while a small action, is a breakthrough for the Singaporean LGBTQ community, who are still criminalized and censored in Singapore," said Ross Murray, Senior Director of the GLAAD Media Institute. "Let this Olympian kiss be a call to strike down Section 377A of Singapore's penal code, and end the criminalization of LGBTQ people globally."