Cross-dressing barred for male entertainers, lights out for concerts on eve of Muslim public holidays

ENTERTAINMENT-LINKED event management companies will soon have to comply with more restrictions, one of which is that male foreign artistes are not allowed to “cross-dress” or dress up like women when performing in Malaysia.

Such ruling which is believed to curb the undesirable LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transvestites) element on concerts and live shows will be a new addition to the guidelines by the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (PUSPAL).

Another new rule is that large-scale concerts and live performances by international artistes are also not allowed to be held on the night before Islamic public holidays and on the actual date of such occasions.

“This is unless it is allowed by the respective Islamic authorities,” read the PUSPAL updated guidelines sighted by The Star.

Examples of Islamic occasions listed in the guidelines include the entire month of Ramadan, on Awal Muharram, Maulidur Rasul, Isra’ Mikraj, Nisfu Sya’ban, Nuzul Al-Quran, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Aidiladha.

The previous 2019 guidelines did not have restrictions on shows on the eve of such occasions and did not specify examples of the religious events except for the fasting month of Ramadan.

The new guidelines, however, reduced the “blackout dates” for shows during the country’s independence celebration which include National Day on Aug 31 and Malaysia Day on Sept 16.

Canadian rocker Bryan Adams recently performed in Genting Highlands as part of his World Tour 2023

In the previous guidelines, all open concerts by foreign artistes could not be held throughout the independence month from Aug 25 to Sept 16. The new rule states that such large-scale shows cannot be held from Aug 30 to 31 and from Sept 15 to 16.

Asked to comment further, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil said the updates were made to protect the sensitivities of everybody in Malaysia.

“We have consulted all communities, including Muslims and non-Muslims, in drafting the updated guidelines,” he told The Star.

“At the same time, the guidelines were also amended after receiving feedback from industry players. We agreed to make the guidelines more clearly spelt out so that they can be easily understood.”

On the criterion prohibiting cross dressing for male foreign acts, Fahmi said Malaysia does not discriminate against any international artistes from performing in the country.

“But foreign artistes will have to follow the code of conduct and dress code in the guidelines when they perform on stage in Malaysia,” he added.

Among others, the updated guidelines have specified that both male and female foreign acts are not allowed to remove any clothing during their performance.

Aside from live performances, the guidelines also govern foreign film crews that are recording content in Malaysia.

One of the new criteria for filming is that the script of such content must not negatively depict any security or enforcement agency in Malaysia such as the police or military forces.

The script must also be reviewed by PUSPAL for approval before it can proceed to filming. – March 15, 2023

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