Singapore Bans Sale Of Archie Comics’ Same-Sex Marriage Story Featuring Kevin Keller
Due to a “breach [of] content guidelines for imported publications,” the trade paperback collection Archie: The Married Life volume 3, which depicts the same-sex marriage of Riverdale’s Kevin Keller, has apparently been banned in Singapore by the country’s Media Development Authority — or censors, basically.
Sonny Liew, the artist of the new graphic novel The Shadow Hero, editor of the acclaimed Liquid City anthology series, and a resident of Singapore, noticed the book wasn’t available through distributor Kinokuniya’s catalog and did some following up to find out why. They told him it has been “removed from sale” by order of the MDA.
From Liew’s blog post:
At this point it is unknown whether this ban on sales was due to outside pressures… or if it was a unilateral decision by he MDA – currently waiting for a reply from them about the mechanisms and processes involved behind restrictions on books, especially ones that do not appear to pose a threat to political stability (compared with, say, a racially charged tract).
Liew also linked to the MDA’s content guidelines. They’re very open to interpretation, particularly the item that says, “Teens and young persons should be protected from content likely to harm or disturb them.” You could apply that one with a broad brush. There are also rules against “publications that encourage, promote or glamorize sexually permissive and alternative lifestyles and deviant sexual practices.” Again, that could be interpreted very broadly.
Singapore is going through quite a public debate over censorship at the moment. Under pressure from an anti-gay-rights Facebook group, the country’s National Library Board is pulping all its copies of three books nominated for a literary prize in non-fiction, causing judges to quit and hundreds of Singaporeans to protest. That incident followed a peaceful protest of 20,000 Singaporeans in support of gay rights earlier this year. Homosexual relationships between men remain technically illegal in the island nation.
The Archie book isn’t directly part of that specific debate, but its ban is related to a cultural struggle that, according to former Singapore resident and ComicsAlliance editor Andy Khouri, has been growing in intensity for years and years, as many Singaporeans try to promote progressive change to match the country’s astonishing economic success.