SINGAPORE - Mediacorp has apologised for a controversial paedophile character in Channel 8 drama series My Guardian Angels, which wrapped its run in May.
The family drama was criticised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community for featuring a paedophile basketball coach with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) who was eventually jailed for molesting teenage boys. The show stars Zoe Tay, Kym Ng and Hong Ling as mothers struggling to raise their children alone. Actor Chase Tan plays the coach.
The broadcaster said in a statement to The Straits Times on Tuesday (July 14) that it had "no intention to disrespect or discriminate against the LGBTQ community in the drama" and the storyline was meant to "encourage young people to be aware of potential dangers and not be afraid to speak up and protect themselves".
A Mediacorp spokesman added there was "no specific mention of the sexual orientation" of the paedophile character in the drama.
Another widely criticised thread was Brandon Wong and Kym Ng as parents worrying about the sexual orientation of their son. Mediacorp said this was "to depict the real life struggles some parents face in communicating with their children on topics such as relationships and sexual orientation".
It urged netizens not to make personal attacks on Wong and Ng, who have received "abusive messages" for their involvement in the project.
The apology comes after several days of controversy, with netizens taking to Channel 8's Instagram account to demand an explanation.
In a statement dated July 8, Action For Aids, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to fighting AIDS/HIV infection, condemned the portrayal.
It said: "To our knowledge, there is no evidence that homosexual males have a greater propensity to offend against children than heterosexual males.
"The portrayal of gay men as paedophiles further perpetuates falsehoods that create further suffering among an already marginalised and stigmatised population."
It also added that STDs can affect anyone and is "not confined to any gender identity, sexual orientation or behaviour".
Tan, who played the character in question, apologised on July 3.
He said on Instagram: "I'm deeply saddened that the role I played has caused distress in the community and I'd like to emphasise that it was never my intention. I'm an aspiring actor and every opportunity given to me is precious. I do not mean to disrespect anyone."
According to guidelines by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, content on free-to-air television should not promote or justify the homosexual lifestyle.