In the first legal battle in the country between a film director and the Thai Censorship Committee, the Administrative Court confirmed a ban on an LGBTI-themed film over a controversial sex scene, saying that it could negatively affect public morale.
The Administrative Court on Friday, 25 December 2015, confirmed an order from the Censorship Committee of the National Film and Video Board (NFVB) to ban Insects in the Backyard, an independent LGBTI-themed film, which portrays the story of a troubled family led by a single transsexual mother who struggles to raise his children.
The movie was directed and written by Tanwarin Sukkhapisit who filed the case against the decision of the Censorship Committee to ban the film with the Administrative Court in March 2011.
Reading the verdict, the Administrative Court concluded that although the film intends to reflect LGBTI and family issues, it contains a three-second-long sex scene in which the main character watches a pornographic film with exposed genitals, which is against the Criminal Code. Therefore, the order of the Censorship Committee to ban the film is reasonable.
The court cited Section 6/1 of the 2009 Film Rating Act, which prohibits the screening of sex scenes with exposed genitals.
The Administrative Court judges, however, said the director could cut the problematic scene from the movie and request permission from the Censorship Committee to show the film with a 20+ rating.
According to Yingcheep Atchanont, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Tanwarin could submit a request to appeal the court’s ruling within 30 days or delete the sex scene deemed problematic by the Censorship Committee and resubmit their request to the NFVB.
The lawyer added that initially the Censorship Committee never brought up the three-second sex scene as the main reason for banning the film and that the court dismissed the other reasons given by the Censorship Committee.
Earlier on 3 December 2015, the Commissioner of the Administrative Court said that the ban on the film should be lifted because the problematic sex scene was not central to the theme of the film and the film did not harm national security, religions, or the monarchy.
Before it was banned in Thailand, Insects in the Backyard was shown at Thailand’s World Film Festival of Bangkok, Canada’s Vancouver International Film Festival and Italy’s Torino GLBT Film Festival in 2010.