Beauty and the Beast's Release Shelved in Malaysia Amid Censorship of Gay Character
The Star English-language newspaper cited Disney as saying the movie was postponed for an "internal review"
Beauty and the Beast has been yanked from being released in Malaysia amid controversy over a “gay moment” in the film — despite the scene in question being cut by the country’s censors.
According to Variety, the highly anticipated live-action version of the movie, which features Gaston’s sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) as the first openly gay character in a Disney film, was scheduled for release in Southeast Asian nation on Thursday. However, all screenings of it have disappeared.
According to Film Censorship Board chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, the small segment during the film’s finale that makes the character’s sexuality clear — and hints at his own happily ever after — was removed from the reboot.
“We have approved it 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,” Abdul Hamid told the Associated Press, adding that there was no appeal from Disney about the decision.
Variety reports that in Malaysia, gay characters are only allowed to be portrayed in film in a negative light. (In that country, homosexuality is punishable by law.)
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Malaysia is not the only place where the movie’s twist has caused controversy. Earlier this month, a theater in Alabama announced it would not screen the film.
Speaking to ComicBook.com, the film’s composer and songwriter Alan Menken said he took issue with the characterization of LeFou as the first openly gay Disney character.
“I know there’s been this whole discussion, which is, to me, absolutely absurd. It’s just nuts,” he said. “It’s really not really part of the movie in any overt way at all … any more than it was in the original. To me, it’s an utter non-issue.”
Gad previously told PEOPLE that the moment in the movie teaches an important lesson central to the theme of the film: “Never judging a book by its cover.”
“What I would say is that this film is one of inclusiveness,” the 36-year-old actor said. “It’s one that has something to offer everyone.”
Beauty and the Beast hits theaters on Friday.