Singapore 🇸🇬 is an Asian country that is secular, but it primarily worships Buddhism and Islam. It is multicultural with four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. English is the most prevalent language in the daily lives of Singaporeans.

It is a former British colony. It joined Malaysia in 1963 then gained independence from Malaysia in 1965.

General censorship[]

  • Pornography "banned"
  • Any promotion of homosexuality is prohibited due to the socially conservative attitudes of Singaporeans
  • Government can fire or censor anyone they want in the news media
  • International publications such as The Economist are restricted
  • Malaysian newspapers banned
  • All television and radio stations are owned by the government

Book censorship[]

  • Possessing Jehovah Witnesses literature is illegal in Singapore, which can elicit fines and jail time if convicted. Even being a Jehovah Witness, classified as a cult movement, is illegal. They can visit the country as long as they avoid activities that the government sees as "proselytising".
  • Wired magazine was banned for running the famous William Gibson article "Disneyland with the Death Penalty", which lambasted the state's authoritarian nature.
  • Boys' Love (yaoi) genre manga are banned, in compliance of the Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexuality between two males.
  • Many works of Stalin, Lenin, Mao Zedong and Karl Marx, alongside a biography of Friedrich Engels and several Socialist books, were banned under the Internal Security (Prohibition of Publications) (Consolidation) Order.
  • The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie was banned for blasphemy against Islam.
  • What Islam Is All About, The Wisdom of Jihad and Things that Nullify One's Islaam were banned in Singapore in 2018 for "promoting enmity among different religious communities".
  • Red Lines: Political Cartoons and the Struggle Against Censorship was banned in 2021 for offensive content against Muslims.

Internet censorship[]

IMDA blocked

Singapore Internet users are redirected to this page (screenshot above) whenever they attempt to access a blocked website.

In Singapore, many websites are blocked by the Media Development Authority.

  • Various pornographic sites
  • Playboy (lifestyle)
  • Chick.com (religious, Protestant fundamentalist cartoonist Jack Chick's website)
  • penthouse.com (lifestyle)

As of late, the Singaporean government has been considering lifting the ban in favor of end-user or service-provider based web filters. A Google Chrome extension can work around it.

Movie censorship[]

The Board of Film Censors (BFC) regulates the film industry in Singapore.

Any film with scenes or dialogue containing religiously profane language or mocking religion is censored. As homosexual behaviour between males is illegal in Singapore, films with homosexual content may be age-restricted.

  • A Clockwork Orange was banned in 1971 for over 30 years, before an attempt at release was made in 2006. However, the submission for a M18 rating was rejected, and the ban was not lifted. The ban was later lifted, with film was shown uncut with an R21 rating on 28 October 2011, as part of the Perspectives Film Festival.
  • The Exorcist was banned upon initial release in 1973, and subsequently rated M18 with cuts made to "a scene of a disfigured statue of the Virgin Mary, and a scene of the possessed girl stabbing herself in the crotch with a crucifix while uttering "Jesus f**k you!"...[for] "films that denigrate any religious group" and "language that denigrates religion or is religiously profane".
  • Last Tango in Paris was banned for its strong sexual content.
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was banned in 1974 for 30 years. Passed uncut after 2004 with an M18 rating for violence.
  • Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom was banned due to graphic violence and nudity.
  • Fritz the Cat - this animated film by Ralph Bakshi was banned for its transgressive content, including violence, drugs, profanity and sexual content. As if all of this wasn't bad enough on its own, having it in an animated cartoon with antropomorphic cats probably didn't go over well at all.
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian was banned for "inappropriate" religious content.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street was censored to remove very strong sexual scenes and religiously profane language.
  • The Neon Demon was censored to remove necrophilia and sexual assault, resulting in the film being rated M18 (instead of the more restrictive R21).
  • Cannibal Holocaust was banned for graphic violence.
  • Saint Jack was banned for the "excessive edits required to the scenes of nudity and some coarse language before it could be shown to a general audience," the film was reclassified to an M18 rating in 2006.
  • The Evil Dead was banned since its release in 1981; authorities disallowed it for "excessive graphic violence and gore". Ban lifted in 2011 and reclassified R21.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was by the authority. Subsequently, rated R21.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ - this movie was banned due to showing a religious deity as a flawed human being.
  • Begotten - this experimental horror film was reportedly banned in Singapore due to depicting the allegorical death and rebirth of a God-like figure with graphic violence and sexual imagery throughout.
  • A Night on the Water was banned for strong sexuality.
  • The Kids Are All Right - this film was only allowed one print with an R21 rating, limiting its theatrical release and was banned on home video.
  • Zoolander - this movie was banned in Singapore out of goodwill towards the neighbouring Malaysia. 5 years later, however, the countries fell out and Singapore lifted the ban. Even after mending the relationship, Singapore cannot re-ban the movie.
  • Formula 17 was banned because of its portrayal of homosexuality as "normal, a natural progression of society".
  • Singapore Rebel was banned for being a political film, which is not allowed in Singapore. In 2009 the film was reviewed by the Political Films Consultative Committee (PFCC) and unbanned, with a M18 rating.
  • Shortbus was banned because of pornographic content.
  • Solos was banned for pervasive homosexual scenes.
  • Following Desire was banned for "excessive sexual acts and stage performances of a sexual nature which are prolonged, gratuitous and exploitative".
  • Zahari's 17 Years was banned because, according to the Government of Singapore, it is "against public interests".
  • A Jihad for Love was banned for an imbalanced depiction of Islam as being intolerant. The interviewees also tried to use religion to justify their homosexuality.
  • David the Tolhidan was banned for its "sympathetic portrayal of an organisation viewed as terrorist organisation by many countries".
  • Arabs and Terrorism was banned for portraying sympathetically an organisation seen as terrorist by many countries.
  • Bakushi was banned for its "several prolonged and explicit sado-masochistic sequences, demonstrating how the rope masters tied up nude women and subjected them to various degrees of physical abuse and sexual degradation, for the erotic gratification of their audience".
  • Female Games was banned for its "explicit lesbian sex acts".
  • Boy was banned for "romanticising and promoting homosexual relationships. The sexual sequence is prolonged, intense and titillates".
  • Brides of Allah was banned for promoting and justifying the act of terrorism, as well as using religion to justify its cause.
  • Transgressor (School of the Holy Beast) was banned for portraying nuns as "lesbians with depictions of sadomasochism as well as bondage in many of the scenes".
  • Dr Lim Hock Siew was banned due to similar reasons for the film Zahari's 17 Years.
  • Sex.Violence.FamilyValues was banned because of Porn Masala, the second story in Ken Kwek's compendium of three short films. It was deemed "racially offensive and demeaning to Indians" by the Board of Film Censors. The ban was later lifted and the film's Singapore edition released with edits in March 2013. However, the film had not completed its Singapore theatrical run when it was banned by the Malaysian Board of Film Censors, who deemed it "obscene" and "insulting to local cultures". The film was also withdrawn from ASEAN International Film Festival & Awards, where it was due to be screened from 28 March to 30 March 2013.
  • To Singapore, With Love was banned because it allegedly undermined national security as "the individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore and remain outside Singapore" and that "a number of these self-professed 'exiles' were members of, or had provided support to, the proscribed Communist Party of Malaya".
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - this movie was only allowed for release if a same-sex kiss was cut.
  • The Last Hangover - this movie was banned for glorifying recreational drug use.
  • The Kashmir Files - this film was banned for its negative portrayal of Muslims.
  • Benedetta was refused classification by the IMDA for "its portrayal of Jesus Christ and members of the church in a manner that is insensitive and offensive to the Christian and Catholic faith". This is particularly due to a homosexual scene between two nuns.
  • #LookAtMe - this film was banned as it "contains content that denigrates a religious community and has the potential to cause enmity and social division in Singapore's multi-racial and multi-religious society".

Television censorship[]

Any show with scenes or dialogue containing religiously profane language or mocking religion is censored.

  • Cooking on High, The Legend of 420 and Disjointed are banned for glorifying recreational drug use.
  • The Owl House - Disney had some trouble putting the show up on Disney+ due to an anti-LGBT law, but it managed to arrive in the country with mild censorship.
  • One of the Macross Plus' soundtrack CDs was banned due to the song "Idol Talk" containing a includes samples of phone sex chats taken from the Robin Rimbaud album Scanner.

Video game censorship[]

  • Prior to the introduction of a rating system for video games, Mass Effect was banned because of possible homosexuality. Two years later, the game was unbanned and rated as M18.
  • During the Hot Coffee controversy, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was one of the first few video games to be banned in Singapore.
  • The Steam store removed Fight of Gods following its ban by Malaysia and other neighbouring countries.
  • While not banned, Bugsnax was given an M18 rating due to the prominence of LGBT characters, making it illegal to sell to persons under 18.
  • Waifu Uncovered became the first video game to be refused a classification in Singapore because of excessive and exploitative nudity making it unsuitable for classification.

Other censorship[]

  • Material promoting socialism is prohibited in Singapore.
  • Selling and reselling chewing gum and bubble gum in Singapore except medical gum for therapeutic use.

External links[]