Courts likely to lift gay-themed film ban

Courts likely to lift gay-themed film ban

The Administrative Court has advised the National Film Board to revoke the ban on a gay-themed film, Insects in the Backyard, and pay 10,000 baht in compensation for banning it for five years.

The guideline ruling was read yesterday before the complainant Tanwarin Sukkhapisit and the defending party from the Culture Ministry.

It took the form of an initial ruling, as required by procedure. The final ruling will be read on Dec 25.

Ms Tanwarin, the film director, said no matter what the final ruling is, the initial guidance has at least set a precedent for how such a film should be treated.

"The film is meant to talk about family problems and mostly lessons learned from my own experiences. It doesn't intend to cast a negative light on the country," she said.

According to Yingcheep Atchanont, who is representing Ms Tanwarin in the lawsuit, the court said the ban order was unlawful as the film does not meet the ban criteria.

The criteria for film censorship and banning include strong negative impacts on national security, the monarchy, international relations, and obscene scenes with graphic sexual intercourse.

The judge said a scene showing sexual organs for about three seconds was just a minor component that did not depict sexual indecency or have a bad impact on society.

The film could be screened but must be rated 20+, which would restrict it to audiences aged 20 and older.

The court, however, knocked back the complainant's argument that four of the 13 board members who voted for the ban order had not seen the film yet, said Mr Yingcheep, adding it will not change the majority vote. But at least the judge said the film does not fall under the ban criteria, said Mr Yingcheep.

In December 2010, 13 of the Culture Ministry's National Film Board members voted against three members not to allow the movie to be screened because of immoral and pornographic content.

The director disagreed with the ban and became the first director to file a complaint with the Administrative Court since the Film Act was enacted in 2008.

Insects in the Backyard is a drama about a transvestite father, played by Ms Tanwarin, whose teenage daughter and son have a confused sense of their own sexuality, and both enter the sex trade.

The movie has vivid depictions of sexual acts. There is also a dream sequence of the son killing his father, which led to a negative reaction from the censors.

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