BEAUTY and the Beast fans in Malaysia, take note.
Local authorities have refused an appeal from Disney to allow the movie to be screened in full, along with the “nice, exclusively gay moment” that creators included in their rendition of the 1991 animated classic.
According to media reports, the Home Ministry said Saturday it would not entertain Walt Disney Company’s request to keep the scene and would only permit the screening if the firm agreed to local censorship guidelines.
The decision, which echoes that of the Malaysian Film Censorship Board’s (LPF) on Friday, means the film will only show in Malaysia without the “gay moment”. It is not known yet how Disney will respond to the matter.
Deputy minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed reportedly suggested the possibility of double standards by Disney, saying the film company would have likely been more forgiving of similar requests if they had come from bigger markets like Russia, China or the US.
“I believe if these countries had ordered Disney to cut the scene, the company would obey as it would not want to forego the huge income from ticket sales,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.
Starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, Beauty and the Beast, a live-action remake of Disney’s classic animated feature, was originally meant to be released on Thursday but was held back in Malaysia for an “internal review”.
The issue first blew up Monday when local cinema chains Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) and TGV cinemas, responding to the postponement, announced refunds for tickets purchased ahead of the screening.
Later in the day, however, LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid told The Star Online “the film has been approved with a P13 parental guidance classification, with a minor cut.”
The authorities reportedly made a minor edit on the film after concerns about a “gay moment.” Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon had earlier this month told gay lifestyle magazine Attitude that film character LeFou, played by Josh Gad, would have “a nice, exclusively gay moment” in the movie.
Disney, refusing to proceed with the screening without the “gay moment”, filed an appeal with the LPF on Thursday but the board stood by its decision to remove the scene.
Homosexual activity is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia. The country has in the past banned or censored certain films deemed to hurt Muslim sensitivities, including movies that depicted prophets of Abrahamic faiths, such as the 1998 animated musical Prince of Egypt.
Last year, Malaysians raised a stink on social media after finding the Hollywood remake of old time classic Ben-Hur was edited to remove scenes featuring Jesus Christ. It was revealed later, however, that the edits were made before local censors saw the film.