Malaysia bans foreign male performers from cross-dressing on stage

Photo via IG @SamSmith

Performing artists who are male and foreign are no longer allowed to “cross-dress” or dress up like women while performing in Malaysia, according to updated guidelines on live shows and concerts.

The Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performing by Foreign Artistes (PUSPAL), under Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Digital, recently published some stricter rules regarding live performances by foreign artists, reports The Star.

Male foreign artists who intend to perform in Malaysia are prohibited from “dressing up and wearing clothes that cause them to resemble women.” Male artists are also banned from wearing “only underwear” on stage.

Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil said that Malaysia welcomes all types of artists, but they must follow Malaysia’s dress code and code of conduct on stage.

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Meanwhile, female foreigners who want to perform in Malaysia are now banned from wearing clothes that “widely expose the chest area” or are “too high above the knee,” according to the updated guidelines.

Both male and female artists are banned from taking off their clothes on stage.

Also, foreign artists may not perform the night before and the actual days of seven Islamic holidays unless permitted by the “respective Islamic authorities.” No performances are allowed during the month of Ramadan, Islamic New Year, Awal Muharram, and Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

The guidelines were last updated in 2019 but did not restrict performances on the eve of Islamic holidays. In those guidelines, only Ramadan was specified as a foreign performance-free holiday.

Another interesting feature of the new guidelines is that foreign film crews are required to submit a script which must be approved by PUSPAL before they can proceed with filming in Malaysia.

Any foreign film crews who “film content contradicting government policies” and “damages the country’s image” will be stopped.

Minister Fahmi Fadzil said the new rules are “to protect the sensitivities of everybody in Malaysia,” reports The Straits Times.

The department also wants to improve other elements of concerts, such as improving the standard of toilets, proper seating and facilities. The department plans to update the guidelines again in December.

The minister said that Malaysia is planning to attract more international stars. But will foreign performers be put off by the strict rules?

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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