Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's censors have loosened decades of restrictions on sexual and religious content in movies, but are still keeping a tight leash on tiny bikinis, kisses and passionate hugs on screen.

The guidelines made public on the Home Ministry's website this week, are meant to "ensure the creativity of filmmakers is not blocked," with the caveat that "extremely negative elements" should remain off-limits, the ministry's secretary-general, Mahmoud Adam, said in a statement.


The state-run Film Censorship Board has long faced criticism for snipping off scenes considered too racy and banning some movies altogether. Several Hollywood films banned last year include Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat, which the board said promoted homosexuality.

The new censorship guidelines stress that "adults should be free to choose whatever material they wish to watch, as long as the material is legitimate in terms of the law and does not have the potential to cause harm."

Previously, all profanities and scenes of amorous kisses were excised, but the new rules suggest that censors would only remove them if they were overly explicit, such as involving nudity. Women should not wear "bikinis that are too tiny and tight," according to the guidelines.