Court ruling affirms gay-themed film violates Criminal Code

Court ruling affirms gay-themed film violates Criminal Code

The Administrative Court yesterday ruled that a gay-themed film, <i>Insects in the Backyard</i>, contains a scene showing graphic sexual intercourse which would have a negative impact on morality, placing it in violation of the Criminal Code.

However, the court said the film, which has been banned for five years, can be screened if the scene, which runs for three seconds, is removed. It must also be rated 20+ which would restrict it to audiences aged 20 and older. 

The court said the film contains a scene in which the characters are watching an X-rated gay movie where there is a graphic depiction of sexual organs and sexual intercourse.

Even though the scene is short in duration, it violates Section 287 of the Criminal Code, which bans content that "has impacts on morality and social decency", the court said.

The screening of pornographic films either in their entirety, or in part, is not allowed under Thai law. Insects in the Backyard therefore falls under the ban criteria, the court said.

While the court noted that in essence the film itself is not pornography, it contains a pornographic scene which is prohibited under the law.

In December 2010, a majority of the Culture Ministry's National Film Board voted to ban the screening of the film due to its immoral and pornographic content.

Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, the film's director, disagreed with the ban and took the case to the Administrative Court, arguing for freedom of expression.

She became the first director to file such a complaint with the Administrative Court since the Film Act was enacted in 2008 and passionately defends her film.

"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," Ms Tanwarin said.

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.

During an Administrative Court hearing on Dec 3, a judge in charge of the case suggested that a panel of Administrative Court judges considering the case revoke the ban on the film.

The judge provided an opinion on the case independently to balance the opinion of the panel of judges adjudicating it.

The judge argued that the film was primarily intended to portray a troubled family and that the sexual content was just a minor component that did not promote any sexual indecency.

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