Last edited: June 10, 2004

Call to Limit Gay Presence on TV

The Nation, June 5, 2004

Producers say they will comply with Culture Ministry’s request

The Culture Ministry will next week ask all television stations to cut down on images portraying homosexual behaviour, a senior ministry official said yesterday.

Dr Kla Somtrakul, deputy permanent secretary for Culture, said some television programmes clearly showed homosexual behaviour and if unchecked some of them could cross the line to obscenity. Kla also dismissed as misquotes recent press accounts reporting him saying that no homosexuals would be hired at the ministry.

Next week, the ministry would send a letter requesting television stations not to air “sexually deviant” homosexual messages but leave the final decision to the stations’ own judgement.

Television producers said they would cooperate, although they played down the ministry’s concerns.

“There is a third sex in the world and TV shows merely reflect reality,” said Yutthana Lophanpaibul, an out-the-closet gay director. “Maybe there are too many male comedians dressing in women’s costumes. If so, then they should cut them down.”

Yutthana said he did not believe that television would arouse “sexual deviation” among youths because homosexuals were what they were because of hormones or different sexual tastes.

Kla said the ministry is concerned about the effects on society of programming featuring gays.

“Many parents told me that they are worried that their children would have sexually deviant behaviour after viewing such behaviours on TV,” he said.

Thakonkiet Weerawan, a television producer from Exact Ltd, said he would have to go back and look for excessive amounts of such behaviour portrayed in his programmes and dramas and cut them out if there was too much. But he urged the ministry to be understanding.

“You can’t just get rid of all of it because TV producers also have work ethics and if the message was too much, society would judge it. Also, parents should guide their kids,” he added.

Itthipat Rattanapanu, a producer from RS Promotion Ltd, said cutting all programmes with homosexual people was impossible because it would ruin the flavour of the programmes, but he would try.

“I do not believe that viewers would copy what they see on TV,” he said, adding that the homosexual roles were there to spice up the dramas, not to convince people to copy them.

Piya Sawetpikul, a gay actor, said sexual orientation depended on how a child was raised.

“Parents should provide guidance while they watch television. Actors only entertain their audience and the homosexual actors also know their limitations for expressing themselves,” he said.

The cause of homosexuality possibly results from an abnormal state during pregnancy due to hormone and chemistry in brain, said Dr Taveesilpa Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the Mental Health Department. Watching homosexual behaviour on television could spur people with homosexual tendencies to act on their urges, he said.

In related news, Kla denied saying that he would bar homosexuals from working at the Ministry of Culture.

“I have no intention to stop homosexual persons from being recruited by the ministry like many Thai newspapers said because there is no such rule and they do not cause great damage to society,” Kla said

Although there are no rules prohibiting homosexuals from working at the ministry, they had to be careful about expressing themselves as the ministry is the country’s cultural watchdog, said Anurak Jureemas, the Minister of Culture. He said individuals have the right to express themselves, but they must also respect the rules of society.

According to a source at the ministry, people are hired depending on their qualifications for the positions they apply for, not their sexual orientation. Even if an official wanted to have sex-change operation, they would not have to ask for permission from their superior as it was an individual’s right.

Kamolseth Kendkanreu, secretary to Fah Si Rung Association of Thailand, a homosexual association, said the association was happy that Dr Kla refuted his statement that he would disallow homosexuals from working for him.

Sucheera Pinijparakarn

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