Malaysia's religious affairs minister has ordered portraits of LGBT activists to be
removed from an arts festival in Penang.
Portraits of activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik, who champion the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, were taken down on the orders of Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, a minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
Dr Mujahid said promoting LGBT activities was not in line with the new Pakatan Harapan administration's policies. He told reporters at the Parliament lobby: I was informed of the exhibition that showcased their pictures, along with the rainbow
pride flag, in a public gallery.
I contacted the state government to check if the claim is true, and I have consistently repeated in Parliament that we do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia.
Ms Nisha and Mr Pang's portraits were removed from the month-long Stripes and Strokes exhibition at the George Town Festival in Penang. They were portrayed holding the Jalur Gemilang, Malaysia's flag, in prints captured by photographer Mooreyameen
The exhibition sponsor, Datuk Vinod Sekhar, criticised the decision:
How could this happen in Penang? I expected more from the Penang government. We should be enlightening people, changing their mindsets - not reacting to people who are close-minded.
An AI system developed by a Catholic institute in Brazil seeks out lewd pictures and digitally adds swimwear to
censor the images images.
Researchers warned that while the AI was designed to be used for good, cyber criminals could one day reverse the process to erase bikinis from people's photos.
The AI was trained by software engineers at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul using 2,000 images of women. It is a type of AI known as a generative adversarial network, which that learn to perform tasks by recognising
patterns commonly found in a set of images.
Project scientist Dr Rodrigo Barros told the Register :
When we train the network, it attempts to learn how to map data from one domain - nude pictures - to another domain - swimsuit pictures. Researchers warned that while the system was designed to be used for good, cyber criminals could one day
reverse the process to erase bikinis from people's photos (stock image) Researchers warned that while the system was designed to be used for good, cyber criminals could one day reverse the process to erase bikinis from people's photos.
He added that the AI was developed to test out a novel way of censoring images on the internet.
Sikh leaders in India have threatened to protest over the title of a biopic because it uses the name Kaur.
Sunny Leone is a former porn star turned Bollywood actress who plays herself in web series Karenjit Kaur: The Untold Story of Sunny Leone . Kaur - Leone's real name - is used by Sikh women as a surname or middle name and symbolises gender
The web series depicts her life and premiered on 16 July for Zee5, a streaming platform in India.
In a letter to Subhash Chandra, the chairman of Essel Group which owns Zee5, Indian politician Manjinder Singh Sirsa called for the show to be pulled from the network or have the name Kaur removed from the title. But Chandra responded simply by
explaining that her name can't be changed.
Other Sikh groups and leaders have expressed similar sentiments and have threatened to protest outside the network's offices if their demands aren't met.
The German Culture Council (Deutscher Kulturrat) is the umbrella organization of the German cultural
associations such as groups representing art galleries and TV companies. It is a political and lobbying association and is funded by taxpayers.
Olaf Zimmermann, the head of the powerful cultural body has called for the banning of the nation's multitude of political talkshows for a year, claiming that they have helped fuel the rise of the far right.
Zimmermann said that public broadcasters needed to step back and rethink a format that has helped cement gloom-ridden public attitudes towards refugees and Islam, and propelled the Alternative f3cr Deutschland party into parliament at last
September's election. He said:
I'd suggest for them, take a break for a year ... though the length of the intermission isn't the decisive factor. What is crucial is that they return with new talkshow concepts and try to come up with more suitable contents with regards to
social cohesion in our society.
He particularly singled out public broadcasters ARD and ZDF as being obsessed with refugee-related issues, often framing them negatively.
Last week, ARD's main talkshow Hart Aber Fair - Hard But Fair - led with the question: To what extent is it possible to integrate young men who have fled from war and archaic societies? How unsafe is Germany as a result of them? The
programme was triggered by the murder of a 14-year-old German girl whose body was discovered in Wiesbaden last week. An Iraqi man is set to face trial.
The Akal Takht, the highest seat of authority of Sikhism in India, has formed a 21-member film censor board and claimed that its
clearance will have to be taken before making any movie on the Sikh religion and culture. Giani Gurbachan Singh, the Akal Takht head claimed:
The decision was taken because of controversies over films on Sikh gurus and distortion of Sikh history in movies. Any film that plans to portray any sequence related to Sikh gurus, their kin and Sikh history will have to seek clearance from the
Sikh Film Censor Board.
Over the past few years, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has been demanding that at least two of its members be included in the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), India's official film censor.
Unlike the CBFC, which comes into play after a film is complete and before its release, the Sikh board has said its approval will have to be taken for the script of any feature film, documentary, animation and play based on the Sikh religion.
The Hyderabad police have registered a case against Swathi Vadlamudi, a journalist working for an English daily, for
a cartoon she created in response to high profile rape cases in India.
A right wing online vigilante group called Hindu Sanghatan reported the cartoon to police after Vadlamudi posted it on her Facebook page.
Hindu Sanghatan describes itself on its website:
The intent of the Sanghatan is to find public posts, which ridicule and demean Hindus and take legal action against them.
There is a rise of pseudo-seculars and pseudo-liberals who are maligning Hindu religion in all protests. Hence we wanted to take legal action against those tainting Hindu religion.
Police registered a case against her under Section 295 (a) of the Indian Penal Code (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).
The president of Hindu Sanghatan commented:
There is nothing wrong in expressing her anger at Kathua incident and in fact, we, too, share her feelings. But where is the need draw Hindu gods into the incident?
The first film screened in Saudi Arabia for 37 years was Black Panther albeit a little shorter than the
version playing in the rest of the world due to the censorship of a kiss at the end of the film.
Unsurprisingly movies screened in Saudi cinemas will be subject to approval by government censors. Still, it's a distinct improvement over a total cinema ban. Many Saudi clerics still view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt and
Lebanon as sinful.
US-based AMC, one of the world's biggest movie theater operators, only two weeks earlier signed a deal with Prince Mohammed to operate the first cinema in the kingdom. AMC and its local partner hurriedly transformed a concert hall in the Saudi
capital, Riyadh, into a cinema complex for Wednesday's screening.The new movie theater also came equipped with prayer rooms to accommodate the daily Muslim prayer times.
Screenings are gender segregated in a manner customary at restaurants and cafes. Screenings will generally have a seating area for women who may be accompanied by male relatives, and another area for men only. Some screenings could be designated
as solely for woman+families or for men only.
The cinema won't open to the public for a few days as the first screenings are private, invitation-only events.
Two members of veteran Greek extreme metal band Rotting Christ were detained on terrorism charges ahead of show in Georgia last Thursday, after authorities accused them of practising satanism, their record label has said.
According to a statement from Season of Mist, frontman Sakis Tolis was detained alongside his brother, drummer Themis, after being arrested on arrival in Tbilisi on charges allegedly relating to their band name. Sakis explains:
After the regular document check at the border, my brother and I were stopped by the police on our way out from the airport. After some minutes, we were ordered to follow police to another area of the airport under the pretence of further
questioning before entering the country. Instead, we had our passports and mobile phones taken away and were led into a prison cell.
When we demanded to be told the reason for this arrest, we were simply told this information would be 'confidential'. Our lawyers informed us later that we are on a list of unwanted persons [regarded a threat to] national security that branded us
as satanists and therefore suspects of terrorism.
Sakis says the pair were locked in a small and rather dirty cell, and without being permitted any contact to the outside world or legal representation or our embassy for 12 hours, before the promoters of the RedRum event , Sweden's Terror Crew
Promotions and Georgia's Locomotive Promotion, intervened and the band were released without charge.
Due to the hard work of the local promoter, who involved legal experts, journalists, and activists in Georgia, we were finally released, he explains. We are extremely grateful to everybody involved in this process. In the end, we were even able to
perform our show and it turned out to be a fantastic night.
Toronto-based ice cream chain Sweet Jesus has fun with its marketing alluding to religion and sinfulness. But of course
christians don't see the humour.
Petitions began popping up in January, after right-wing blog Activist Mommy posted an article analyzing the blasphemous use of religious imagery in the brand's logo.
A CitizenGo petition calls Sweet Jesus offensive and revolting, and accuses the ice cream parlor of hate speech towards Christians. The petition calls for a name change to eliminate mockery toward our Lord Jesus, as well as a public apology for
openly (attacking) the Christian community and God. According to the petition against the ice cream chain, in question are several items:
the name of the shop;
the upside down cross used in the logo, considered to be a satanic symbol;
ice cream flavors such as Red Rapture, Hella Nutella, and Sweet Baby Jesus;
imagery in their ads including a picture that shows their ice cream in the place of Jesus in a Nativity Scene and using children with questionable accessories and styles
In a statement to CBC News, the owners of the ice cream chain said they won't be changing the name satying:
Sweet Jesus is an honest reflection of our experiences and that of our customers and how they react when they try our product. In our experience, the majority of people understand that we're not trying to make a statement about religion.
Klubb Naket, a daring new nightclub which encourages its customers to get naked opened up its doors in Stockholm this
weekend. While organizers described it as a great success, the neighbouring church claimed it was a breeding ground for broken souls.
Hundreds of people attended the opening night at the venue on the capital's hipster island Södermalm.
The club plays electronic music and targets mainly a fetish and queer audience, and those that undress get free entry.
The club also offers what it describes as hinges, dark corners where clubbers can do what you feel right now and then.
But not everyone is as happy about the club's opening, miserable gits at the local church want to shut Club Naked down. Pastor Lennart Torebring at Södermalmskyrkan whinged:
Many of our youth members come from the suburbs and have been subject to prostitution and abuse, and so they have reacted very strongly. We believe in sexual purity and that sexuality needs to be protected through marriage. But aside from that,
we also have to consider that we can't just do whatever we like. What happens on Södermalm now can have serious consequences, the club becomes a breeding ground for depression and broken souls.
120 Beats Per Minute (120 battements par minute) is a 2017 France drama by Robin Campillo.
Starring Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois and Adèle Haenel.
Early 1990s. With AIDS having already claimed countless lives for nearly ten years, Act up-Paris activists multiply actions to fight general indifference. Nathan, a newcomer to the group, has his world shaken up by Sean, a radical militant, who
throws his last bits of strength into the struggle.
Soldiers: A Story from Ferentari (Soldatii. Poveste din Ferentari) is a 2017 Romania / Serbia / Belgium drama by Ivana Mladenovic.
Starring Dan Bursuc, Sorin Cocis and Cezar Grumazescu.
Adi, a shy and introverted anthropologist, who got recently dumped by his girlfriend, moves to Ferentari, the poorest and most notorious neighborhood of Bucharest. He wants to write a study on manele music, the 'pop music' of the Roma community.
Adi meets Alberto, a Roma ex-convict and a bear of a man, who promises Adi to help him. Soon enough, the unlikely pair begins a playful romance in which Adi feeds Alberto with improbable plans of escaping poverty, while Alberto feeds Adi with
phrases of love.
Religious protesters in Romania have disrupted the screenings of two movies featuring gay themes, saying they violate traditional values.
In response, a new screening of the Cannes award-winning movie 120 Beats Per Minute is going to be held Tuesday in Bucharest.
The dispute illustrates Romania's divided views about homosexuality, which remains a difficult topic in a state where more than 85% of its people belong to Christian Orthodox churches. Homosexuality was only decriminalized when Romania prepared to
join the EU in 2002.
Protesters calling themselves Christian Orthodox burst into a movie theatre on Feb. 4 during a screening of 120 Beats Per Minute. Protesters objected to the film being shown at the Romanian Peasant Museum because the Romanian peasant is a
Christian Orthodox. They sang the national anthem and religious songs while others held religious icons and banners saying: Romania isn't Sodom and Hey Soros, leave them kids alone , referring to Hungarian-American philanthropist George
Days later, protesters disrupted another movie featuring a relationship with a Romanian man and an ex-convict from the nation's Roma, or Gypsy, minority titled Soldiers: A Story from Ferentari. Protesters played Gypsy rock music to drown
out the movie. Police were called in to break up the protest.
Filmmaker Cristian Mungiu, the distributor of 120 Beats Per Minute in Romania, has urged the culture minister and Bucharest mayor to publicly support the movie but so far they have remained silent. It will be re-screened Tuesday at the same
Indonesia's religious extremists are on a roll at the moment and seem set on criminalising all sex outside of marriage.
Revisions to Indonesia's criminal code currently being considered by Parliament would allow prison sentences of up to five years for sex between unmarried people, including of course, all gay sex as gay marriage is simply out of the question.
Rights groups note that this will be a profound setback to human rights and privacy in Indonesia. Religious vigilantism is already rife in the country, and with the force of law behind them, it will be a nightmare.
Opposition seems somewhat muted with a newly launched online petition receiving a rather paltry 20,000 signatures out of a country of 250 million.
Asrul Sani, a lawmaker from the Islamic-based United Development Party, has told reporters that a 25-member parliamentary working committee has agreed on nearly all the articles in the revised code. It and another Islamic party are seeking longer
prison sentences for gay sex in circumstances that involve force, public acts or pornography and that is still being argued.
Indonesia's constitution nominally guarantees human rights, but this clearly doesn't count for much given the latest parliamentary moves.
Padmavat is a 2017 India historical romance by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor.
Rani Padmavati (aka Padmini) is said to be one of the most beautiful women to ever exist. This real life story is epitome of Love and sacrifice between Rajput Queen Padmavati and Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, the Rajput ruler of Mewar. Their perfect
life took unfortunate turn when Allauddin Khilji's lustful eyes gazed upon Queen Padmavati. Alauddin Khilji is known as one of the most brutal rulers of the Khilji dynasty, who ascended the throne by killing his father-in-law, his brother-in-laws
and their uncles. He was known for attacking states, only for their land and women. And, the motive behind the attack on Mewar was none other than royal Rani Padmavati. Chittorgarh fort, today, stands as an epitome of the true Rajputana spirit,
loyalty, fidelity and bravery and a symbol of women power.
Court cases abound whenever there's a controversy about an Indian that should be banned or not banned. There are often several people who are willing to spend their cash on advocating for banning or not banning, often in different courts in
However, in the case of Padmavat these cases have rapidly moved to India's Supreme Court which has just passed two judgements about the film. Firstly the Court found that individual states should not be able to overrode the national film censor
and so bans in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have been overturned.
The film's producers had approached the Supreme Court to challenge the states' ban, and Chief Justice Dipak
Misra concurred with the producers. He stated:
Cinemas are an inseparable part of right to free speech and expression. States... cannot issue notifications prohibiting the screening of a film.
The second judgement refused the case made by an advocate who wanted the court to overturn the CBFC decision and ban the film. The same judge refused to entertain a plea to cancel the Censor Board certificate given to the movie Padmaavat. Advocate
M.L. Sharma had contended that exhibiting the movie in certain States would be an open invitation for violence.
And of course that violence could yet overrule the Supreme Court and force cinemas to not show the film.
Even after the Supreme Court asking four States including Gujarat to allow screening of controversial Hindi movie Padmaavat, nearly 125 multiplexes across Gujarat will not show the movie which is set to release on the eve of Republic Day.
Gujarat Multiplex Owners Association, the apex body of multiplexes in the state has voluntarily decided not to show the movie. Core committee member of the association Rakesh Patel said that multiplex owners in Gujarat didn't want to take any risk
as there was no guarantee pertaining to safety of the properties.
Update: Inevitably banned by violent religious mobs
Padmavat has been released for worldwide screenings, including the UK, today on 25th January. Early reports suggest that cinemas in religious hotspots have decided not to screen the film rather than face violent protest.
Padmaavat opened in 3,100 screens across the country with an estimated occupancy of 50-55%. It's a very good number given the situation. It clearly shows audiences have come out and supported the film despite all odds, said Atul Mohan, editor of
trade magazine Complete Cinema .
Under normal circumstances, a big-ticket film like Padmaavat would have been screened in more than 4,000 screens. States like Rajasthan, Gujarat and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Haryana refrained from screening the period saga. Protests by the
Rajput Karni Sena and consequent violence in parts of the country led to several theatres refusing to showcase the movie..
The film was also pirated and streamed online on a Facebook page, showing interest but not revenue for the filmmakers.
Update: Rajputs who saw Padmaavat angry for opposing it earlier