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Brokeback MountainThe Malaysian Film Censorship Board is coming out of the closet -- well, sort of.

In a country where many cultural expressions are banned on moral or religious grounds, the Malaysian Film Censorship Board has reversed a ban on films featuring homosexuality -- as long as the character goes straight or realizes the "wickedness" of his decision. Brokeback MountainThe Malaysian Film Censorship Board is coming out of the closet -- well, sort of.

In a country where many cultural expressions are banned on moral or religious grounds, the Malaysian Film Censorship Board has reversed a ban on films featuring homosexuality -- as long as the character goes straight or realizes the "wickedness" of his decision.

"We are now allowed to show these scenes," Malaysian Film Producers' Association president Ahmad Puad Onahhe told Agence France Presse. "As long as we portray good triumphing over evil and there is a lesson learnt in the film, such as from a gay [character] who turns into a [straight] man. Previously we are not allowed to show these at all."

While cursing and any sexual acts -- kissing included -- are still verboten under the rules, the change marks the first time any mention or depiction of homosexuality will be allowed in the country.

Ostensibly, films like 'Milk,' 'A Single Man' and 'Brokeback Mountain' would pass the censors -- with serious editing, of course -- as their tragic endings show the "effects" of being gay, at least by the Board's standards, anyway. A film like 'In and Out,' which ends with Kevin Kline and others dancing to Village People's 'Macho Man'? Probably less so. We can only imagine what their thoughts on 'Bruno' or 'Shortbus' would be.

So is the glass half-full or half-empty? On one hand, gays can finally be acknowledged as actually existing in the world. Yet if the requirement is repentance or conversion, does that advance or regress the goal of being treated as equal members of society? To put it another way, is this a baby step towards loosening restrictions in the heavily religious country or simply another way for the government to exercise control over the arts? The cynic in me leans toward the latter.