‘Gay moment’ censorship sees Disney drop Malaysian release of ‘Beauty & The Beast’

‘Gay moment’ censorship sees Disney drop Malaysian release of ‘Beauty & The Beast’
Disney’s latest epic, a live action remake of their 1991 animated classic ‘Beauty and The Beast’, has had its release in Malaysia postponed indefinitely due to the exclusion of the film’s much-publicized “gay moment.”

Though the movie had been cleared by censors for release with a PG13 rating, the Walt Disney company has shelved its release due to a decision by the censorship board to cut a scene involving a gay character.

"We have approved it but there is a minor cut involving a gay moment," Abdul Halim told AP. "It is only one short scene but it is inappropriate because many children will be watching this movie."

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The remake depicts villain Gaston’s manservant LeFou as “confused about his sexuality” according to the film’s director Bill Condon, who also described the brief scene as a “gay moment.”  

Despite the censor’s approval, albeit with the edit, Disney postponed the release citing an “internal review.” The movie was due to be released on March 16 and was highly anticipated in the Southeast Asian country, leading to a backlash from commentators online.

Malaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has described the film’s postponement as “ridiculous.”

“I mean it’s in the storyline so you don’t do that if it’s there. You don’t ban a film because of a gay character,” he said. “All these years even without the gay character in the Beauty and the Beast, there are also gays in the world. I don’t think it is going to influence anyone.”

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Homosexuality is still illegal in the predominantly Islamic country, and sodomy, even if consensual, carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years and whipping. Although gay characters are allowed to be shown on film, it is only permitted if they are shown to repent or are depicted negatively.