Parliament Just Had to Decide Whether 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Was Too Dangerous for Singapore

The central government was forced to respond to questions about the hit show after a MP tried—and failed—to get a live performance either shut down or censored.

by VICE Staff
16 January 2019, 3:08pm

We're only three weeks into 2019 and already Singapore's parliament is hard at work debating the the kinds of big issues that surely affect everyone's lives—like whether or not RuPaul's Drag Race presents a real danger for the citizens of this tiny city-state.

The matter was pushed before the government's Ministry of Communications and Information by MP Lee Bee Wah, of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), a woman who previously dismissed a petition to overturn an old colonial era law that outlaws sodomy with a wave of her hand before she left the public meeting.

At the time, Lee's staff told the press that she had given the petition as much attention as any other that night. Now, it seems that her reasons for not wanting to discuss repealing what many see as an unfair and homophobic law likely has something to do with her opinions about the wider LGBTQ community as a whole.

Here's what set this RuPaul controversy off in the first place. The show, which available in Singapore on Netflix, is bringing all its sass and attitude to the stage with a tour called "Werq the World" that stops in Singapore's Kallang Theatre (Feb. 2 for anyone who wants to go). Lee, apparently concerned over the likes of Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls gracing the stage in Singapore, decided to ask the government how it planned to handle LGBTQ content in live shows.

Lee wanted to know if the ministry had received any complaints about the upcoming live show (the answer was no), whether it had any plans to censor the show (no answer), and how it was rated (18 and up, same as any other drag show in Singapore). The performance will go on as scheduled, although it's being restricted to adults-only despite the fact that, in reality, there's far more risqué stuff happening a mere 5km walk from the theater.

Let's unpack, for a moment, what just happened here. A member of parliament was just shot down for what can only be described as a back-door attempt to get a popular drag show shut down. But, at the same time, the Singaporean government re-affirmed its stance that any LGBTQ content, whether it's on television or in real life, is for adults-only, which sorta flies in the face of what's happening in the rest of the world (Southeast Asia notwithstanding).

But, at least, despite one MP's best efforts, the show will go on. So, as Bianca Del Rio would say: