Lady Gaga’s song Born This Way, which the singer has styled as promoting diversity because of its inclusive themes, has reportedly been censored in Malaysia where the country’s top private radio operator AMP Radio Networks says it fears the song could land it in trouble with the government regarding the country’s taste and decency laws.
The controversy causing line is one affirming LGBT identity where Lady Gaga sings: “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian or transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby. I was born to survive.”
The Malaysian government has strict rules on taste and decency and what it perceives as offensive material. Broadcasters can face fines the equivalent of around $16,000 and other penalties for breaking these rules.
“The particular lyrics in ‘Born This Way’ may be considered as offensive when viewed against Malaysia’s social and religious observances,” the company said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The issue of being gay, lesbian or (bisexual) is still considered as a ‘taboo’ by general Malaysians.”
Malaysian gay rights activist Pang Khee Teik criticized the broadcasters’ decision, saying the media should be “a platform for marginalized voices and create understanding — not perpetuate ignorance and hate.”
“Lady Gaga was attempting to address this very thing in her song. How dare they play that song and cut out its shining heart,” said Pang, the co-founder of Sexuality Independence, a Malaysian anti-discrimination arts movement. “We just want the same thing as everyone else: to love, be loved and have our songs played on the radio.”
The version now played by the station has the line garbled and incoherent.
It would seem likely, however, that the station’s censorship will now encourage listeners to search for the unaltered version, perhaps serving to bolster the record’s appeal rather than lessening it.
Malaysian law criminalizes what it calls “gross indecency” between male persons and, if found guilty, citizens can face up to two years in prison.
Lady Gaga, a vocal LGBT rights advocate, recently walked away from a precarious deal with Target, a U.S. discount store giant the star had partnered with to sell her new record.
Target, which has faced criticism in the past concerning its financial support for anti-gay politicians, found itself dumped for as yet undisclosed reasons, but it is known that the deal had several stipulations that Target donate to LGBT rights causes and mend its reputation with the LGBT community. Read more about that here.