Children under the age of 16 will be barred from screenings of the Disney live-action remake

March 07, 2017 11:17 AM

Russia has reportedly put new restrictions on who can see Beauty and the Beast due to the film’s gay character.

The Associated Press reports that children under the age of 16 will be banned from screenings of the Disney live-action remake.

In a statement to the AP, the Russian Culture Ministry said the 16-plus rating was put in place after lawmaker Vitaly Milonov petitioned to have the film banned. 

Milonov, who has been a vocal opponent of LGBTQ rights, protested Beauty and the Beast for what he characterized as its “overt and shameless propaganda of sin and sexual perversion under the guise of a fairy tale” in a letter released Saturday by the RIA Novosti news agency.

In 2013, Russia passed a federal law banning “gay propaganda” among minors.

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The choice to include a subtle nod to same-sex attraction in the movie has sparked both praise and backlash. In the movie, LeFou (Josh Gad), the sidekick to egotistic villain Gaston, has a crush on Gaston and gets what director Bill Condon has called “a nice, exclusively gay moment” during the finale.

“It’s a wonderful step forward,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of leading LGBTQ-rights organization GLAAD, has said. “And this is incredibly important for the youth of today.” But there has also been some backlash. A theater in Alabama announced it would not be screening the film.

Gad said he is “very proud” of the movie.

“This film is one of inclusiveness,” he told PEOPLE. “It’s one that has something to offer everyone.”

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