Anyone under the age of 21 will not be able to see the acclaimed gay film Love, Simon in Singapore.
Based on the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon tells the story of closeted high school senior Simon (Played by Nick Robinson) whose life is turned upside down after a classmate threatens to out him.
The country's Media Development Authority (MDA) gave the film the highest classification available, R21, meaning that anyone under the age of 21 will not be able to see the film and most cinemas in the country will be unable to screen the coming of age movie, which contains no nudity, violence or sex scenes but was still given the rating.
Love, Simon was given the rating simply for being a gay love story and fans were outraged by the decision, particularly after the MDA gave Guillermo Del Torro's The Shape of Water, a movie that features a sex scene, a 16 rating.
Activist Thasha Monique Dharmendra created a petition calling on the MDA to change the age rating to NC16 in order to allow teenagers to see the film. The petition launched three weeks ago and has amassed almost 15,000 signatures.
The petition reads: "The movie Love, Simon is a film about a homosexual boy coming to terms with his sexuality and his journey about coming out.
"I realised that the movie Love, Simon has been rated R21 by the Media Development Authority of Singapore which I think is ridiculous as there is no sexual intercourse or violence involved."
"It's just a harmless coming of age movie where the main character happens to be gay. I understand that the older generations are hostile towards the LGBTQ+ community thus leading to some younger generations to just follow suit."
"However, a young Singaporean teen struggling with their sexuality might find themself relating and finding comfort in this movie. By making Love, Simon NC16, I am positive that it will have a huge impact on young teenagers struggling to find acceptance from family and friends.
"It will also educate people that being free and accepted is just what everyone in this extensive community wants. Hopefully, it will also change people's negative perception of the LGBTQ+ community. I personally know many individuals who are afraid of coming out and a movie like this will show them that they are not alone and that there is hope."
"You might think Singapore is a country where there [is] little to no LGBTQ+ teens, however, I assure you that they have just been overcome by the internalised homophobia this country has. I also think that reducing the age limit will be a step in the right direction for a more inclusive society."
To help change Love, Simon's age rating in Singapore, you can sign Dharmendra's petition here.
Love, Simon was given a 12A rating the in the UK and the film hits cinemas April 6.