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After brief gay scene nixed, Disney pulls release of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ from mostly-Muslim Malaysia

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Despite the initial approval of an edited version of “Beauty and the Beast,” Disney has pulled the release of its new film from Malaysia.

The two main cinema chains in the mostly Muslim country gave no reason why the film, set to debut there Thursday, was shelved, according to The Associated Press.

The movie was approved by the Film Censorship Board after a minor gay scene was eliminated, according the board chairman, Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid. Scenes promoting homosexuality are forbidden, Hamid said, and the PG movie was given a PG-13 rating there instead.

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‘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,’ Hamid told the AP.

Last week, the movie was approved by Russia but children under 16 were banned from watching it.

Film director Bill Condon had described the “exclusively gay” scene involving the character Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou, who “is confused about his sexuality” and may be having romantic feelings.

According to the AP:

Malaysia’s censors in 2010 loosened decades of restrictions on sexual and religious content in movies, but still kept a tight leash on tiny bikinis, kisses and passionate hugs. The new rules allowed depiction of gay characters, but only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light. Sodomy, even if consensual, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and whipping in Malaysia.

Although Disney did not respond to the AP’s request for a comment, the company was cited by the Star English-language newspaper as saying the movie was postponed for an “internal review.”

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Frieda Powers


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