Speaking at an event in Hong Kong to promote his latest film, Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee says Asian audiences are generally more accepting of gay subject matters in films than American audiences. The film received four awards at the Golden Globes last week for Best Director, Best Drama, Best Screenplay and Best Original Song.
"Actually, if you compare the two, I think Asian society is more open," state-owned and operated China Radio International reported.
"I saw for myself - after the showing of The Wedding Banquet, Taiwan has become more open on this topic (of homosexuality) than the US," Lee told reporters on Saturday. He noted that his 1993 movie about a gay couple received a less restrictive rating in his native Taiwan than in the United States.
"I think there's pressure to condemn (homosexuality) in their (Americans') religion which causes their homophobia," he said.
"If Americans don't watch the movie, then they don't watch the movie. It's not a big deal. It's their problem, not mine," Lee said with laughter.
"I feel sorry for them because they missed a good film. It's their loss. It's a small movie so we don't need to make that much money," he said.
He added that acceptance of gays needs to happen over time. "It takes education, gradually getting used to it (homosexuality), for us to become more civilised. I got used to it slowly too," he said.
The film, which costs US$14 million to produce, has however also faced resistance elsewhere in Asia. A Malaysian distributor has said it will not release the film in the mostly Muslim country.
Lee, along with Brokeback Mountain star Jake Gyllenhaal, will both be honoured with the Human Rights Campaign's Equality Award at this year's Greater New York Gala Dinner on 11 February 2006.
In Singapore meanwhile, Fridae and Shaw will present a charity screening in benefit of
Action for AIDS on 8 February 2006. [More info here.]
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has criticised American Idol judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson for their questionable comments on the show's fifth season premiere episode which was aired in the US and worldwide including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.
On last Tuesday's show, seen by a Nielsen-chart topping 35.5 million viewers, Cowell told one male contestant to "shave off the beard and wear a dress," because he would make a "great female impersonator" while Jackson asked another, "are you a girl?"
Damon Romine, Entertainment Media Director for GLAAD, said on January 19 that the group is "reaching out to the show's producers to discuss our concerns and the concerns of community members and allies who have contacted us about this matter."
In a January 20 statement posted on the group's web site, it said "the real offense here was in the producer's decision to add insult to injury by turning a contestant's gender expression into the butt of a joke."
GLAAD added that the two-way talks would continue with the show's network, Fox, which it hopes "will be a productive, ongoing conversation about the show's representation and discussion of sexual orientation and gender expression." Said an updated statement issued on January 23.
A spokesman for American Idol said Monday that Fox had no comment.
Singapore spares Thai transsexual drug dealer the cane
A Singapore court has spared a Thai transsexual drug dealer the cane because Singaporean law does not allow women to be sentenced to caning, a local newspaper reported last Friday.
The Straits Times reported that Mongkon Pusuwan, who underwent a sex change from male to female a decade ago, was instead sentenced on Wednesday to six years in jail. Although her passport identified her sex to be male, a medical doctor who was called in concluded that she was a woman.
Mongkon, 37, pleaded guilty to charges including trafficking in cocaine and tablets containing ketamine after being arrested in December. Men who commit similar crimes can be sentenced to caning.
In Singapore, a citizen or permanent resident who has had a sex change operation will have her identity card and passport changed to reflect her new gender. The person might also enter into a legal opposite-sex marriage. Thailand does not permit transsexuals to change their identity cards and/or passports to reflect their new gender.