Gay-themed film proves surprise box office hit in Malaysia

'Dalam Botol' is a hit despite anti-gay laws in the country

A gay-themed film has proved an unexpected success in conservative Malaysia.

Malaysian films are not allowed to depict support for gay life and homosexual intercourse remains illegal in the country, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

However, after less than week after its release the film Dalam Botol (which translates as In A Bottle) has taken more than one milloin ringitt (£206,000) in Malaysian cinemas, reports The Guardian.

Writer and producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman had to submit details of the film to the country’s strict censorship board. Dalam Botol follows a man who undergoes a sex change because he thinks it will be please his boyfriend.

The film offers a non-explicit portrayal, showing the characters hug but not kiss.

Sulaiman said the healthy box office figures “prove that Malaysian audiences are not so conservative any more. I hope it’ll inspire more films that are meaningful and linked to the reality of people’s lives.”

However, rights campaigner Pang Khee Teik of Sexuality Independence criticised the negative portrayal, saying: “Many of us Malaysian gays, lesbians and transgenders have absolutely no regrets being who we are.”