Walt Disney has decided to pull Beauty and the Beast from Malaysian theatres rather than cut its so-called ‘gay moment’ to placate local censors.
“The film has not been and will not be cut for Malaysia,” a Disney rep told Bloomberg.
Malaysia’s largest cinema chain, Golden Screen Cinemas, was on Monday instructed by the studio to postpone showings of the new live-action film.
The film was initially recut by Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board, with board chairman Abdul Halim telling AP: “We have approved [the movie], but there is a minor cut involving a gay moment. It is only one short scene, but it is inappropriate because many children will be watching this movie.”
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In Malaysia, gay sex is still considered a criminal offence which can lead to prison time, censors only allowing the depiction of gay characters if they are portrayed either negatively or as repentant. Beauty and the Beast‘s Le Fou (Josh Gad) is depicted as clearly pining after the film’s villain, Gaston.
Malaysia isn’t among the 20 largest film markets in the world, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, but it is still a positive step that Disney is declining to show a censored version of the film there.
In Russia, the full cut has been approved but for audiences aged 16 and over.
Beauty and the Beast opens in UK cinemas on 17 March.