Ensure no one is oppressed, oppressive because of life choices, beliefs

A scene in the musical Les Miserables involving a brief peck on the lips between two male characters has been removed after the Media Development Authority (MDA) received complaints from the public ("Les Miz same-sex kiss scene cut after public complaints"; June 12).

To put the scene in context, the kiss is a mockery of gay people, as the villainous character, Thenardier, forcefully plants a kiss on the lips of a man he claims is "queer".

The MDA said that after being advised that the scene exceeded its "General" rating, the producers decided to remove it.

This turn of events sends several unhealthy messages.

The removal of the scene not only disregards nuanced characterisations, but also sends out the wrong impression to an uninformed public that the musical has any lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) content.

As audiences all over the world know, it does not, unless one allows his own imagination to interpret so.

Second, the move affirms the action of individuals who see the filing of complaints to institutions as a legitimate means to act publicly against values they do not agree with.

In 2014, we witnessed the near-pulping of And Tango Makes Three, a book that is based on the true story of two male penguins raising a chick in New York's Central Park Zoo.

Last year, we saw a petition against Adam Lambert performing for the countdown show, due to his personal active promotion of LGBT rights.

And this year, we see the removal of an innocuous scene in one of the world's longest-running musicals.

The key role of MDA - besides upholding ratings guidelines and responding to public complaints through the heavy use of scissors - is to promote media literacy.

Works of art are open to interpretation; not all apparent actions have apparent meanings.

And while conservative family values may be important, it is much more important to promote acceptance of diversity, especially in a world that is increasingly besieged with hate and violence unto others whom we perceive as different or wrong.

A day after news of the censorship broke, there was a mass shooting in a gay club in Orlando, Florida, where the alleged shooter was purported to have been offended by two men kissing.

In an apparent similar frame of mind, Singaporean Bryan Lim put up an anti-gay post on the We Are Against Pink Dot Facebook page, asking for "permission to open fire".

He has since apologised for what he called a misunderstanding, and has removed his post.

While these are all separate matters, they reflect an underlying hate for a peaceful and law-abiding group of people who seek love in their own way.

As a mother and an educator, I would like to direct the attention of governmental institutions to this vicious spreading of hate that we must be most vigilant and wary of.

The Government must set a firm tone in ensuring that we live in a society that is secular and democratic - where no one is unduly oppressed or oppressive because of their life choices and beliefs. This is the cornerstone of peace and stability for all of us.

Lin Shiyun (Madam)