Malaysian radio stations worry some lyrics in Lady Gaga’s gay anthem “Born This Way” are on the wrong track, baby.
Broadcasters in this Muslim-majority nation have refused to play lines in the hit song that encourage public acceptance of gays, claiming Thursday they are being cautious because the government forbids offensive content.
Malaysians who tune in to popular stations hear edited versions of “Born This Way” that use indecipherable garble to replace the lyrics: “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby.”
AMP Radio Networks, Malaysia’s top private radio operator, said the precaution was due to government restrictions against songs that might violate “good taste or decency or (are) offensive to public feeling.”
“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.”
Broadcasters can face fines up of to 50,000 ringgit ($16,000) and other penalties for breaking the rules. AMP Radio Networks runs eight radio channels, including Malaysia’s No. 1 English-language station, Hitz.fm, which has an estimated 1.5 million listeners.
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.”
Lady Gaga, who is highly outspoken about gay rights, should consider protesting the decision by asking Malaysian stations not to air her songs at all, Pang said.
Gay Malaysians have tried to press for greater acceptance in recent years, saying discrimination persists.
The Sexuality Independence group last year posted a Youtube clip of a young gay Muslim who defended his sexuality, but it removed the video after anonymous viewers made online death threats against him. Government religious authorities accused the man of insulting Islam, though no official action was taken.