Spoiler alert ahead. Please do not read on if you do not wish to view any spoilers.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has made history by featuring the franchise’s first on screen same-sex kiss.
But it’s not among the two characters you might expect. There is a scene in the final Skywalker Saga film where two unnamed female Resistance soldiers quickly embrace and kiss.
The scene fulfils director J.J. Abrams’ hint that he would introduce some LGBTQ representation in the film — but not among leads Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega), two charismatic friends who some fans have longed to see take things a bit further.
The kiss is very blink-and-you-missed-it brief, however, it has been axed from the Singapore market, which has been historically been hostile towards LGBT representation in popular culture or political discourse.
Responding to media queries, a spokesperson from the media regulatory agency, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), said in a statement on December 20, “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker has been rated PG13 for theatrical release in Singapore. The applicant (Disney) has omitted a brief scene which under the Film Classification Guidelines would require a higher rating.”
Singapore isn’t the only market to have the same-sex scene axed from its final cut. Moviegoers in Middle Eastern markets like Saudi Arabia and UAE will also not be able to view the scene.
Surprisingly, the same-sex kiss survived China’s movie censors and was released for the Chinese market in its uncut form. Chinese moviegoers who attended the movie’s preview were surprised to see the gay kiss left untouched by the censors. Though homosexuality is no longer a crime in China and no longer classified as a mental illness, censors continue to be strict – but also inconsistent – regarding gay depictions on screen.
Long history of hostility towards LGBT representation and LGBT rights
In Singapore, the retention of S377A of the Penal Code effectively means that homosexuality is still criminalized. Singapore has also engaged in draconian censorship of positive portrayals of LGBT individuals from popular culture.
In 2007, popular video game Mass Effect was temporarily banned because it featured a lesbian scene.
In 2015, a Jolin Tsai music video was banned from being played on radio stations because the song featured a same sex wedding.
In 2013, the National Library destroyed 2 children’s books for portraying alternative families in the animal kingdom (same sex parents).
In February 2016, Mediacorp deliberately cut out a segment of Ellen’s show in which she interviewed US President Barack Obama who uttered pro LGBT comments.