Gay HIV Awareness Billboard Censored In Tokyo
An HIV awareness billboard commissioned by ViiV healthcare and created by cartoonist Poko Murata has been re-drawn and posted twice because of censorship in Tokyo's gay Ni-Chome Shinjuku district. "Living Together: There are people living with and without HIV and we're all already living together," it reads.
"They told me that residents in Ni-chome were uncomfortable with my drawing,” Murata wrote in a blog about the above incarnation of the billboard. “And that I should edit it if we plan to continue running awareness campaigns.”
Murata called the complaint "an obvious prejudice and discrimination against gays," but edited his work anyway and submitted a new billboard with less skin.
Not long after the new billboard went up, Japanese officials told Murata that his billboard still was "contrary to public order and morality" and ordered it taken down and censored. A new billboard with the sixth man fully clothed has replaced the original and second work.
The only message that Tokyo authorities have displayed in public is a complete double standard. The Ni-chome neighborhood has many public displays of art that are drastically more sexualized than Murata's billboard—they just cater to the heterosexual community.
Unfortunately, gay bookstores in the Ni-chome regularly complain that they are often arrested by police patrolling the district while straight sex shops go unscathed.
What's going on in Ni-chome kind of underscores Murata's billboard message of unity, doesn't it?