Disney has stated that its upcoming live-action “Beauty and the Beast” “has not been and will not be cut” to remove a gay scene that is controversial in Malaysia.
State censors had reportedly cut the scene and approved the film for release, but reports surfaced Monday that the film’s release had been delayed in the Muslim-majority Southeast Asia country, suggesting interference by the studio.
Earlier this month, director Bill Condon told a U.K. publication that Gaston’s sidekick LeFou, played in the film by Josh Gad, has “confused” feelings for his friend. Condon characterized one scene as a “nice” “gay moment” in the film.
In the U.S., news of Disney’s first openly (to audiences, anyway) character sparked some discussion. Emma Watson, who plays Belle, praised Gad’s “subtle” performance in a recent interview, using a word uttered by many involved in the film to caution viewers against expecting too much from the inclusionary characterization.
But however subtle, the scene caused particular controversy in Malaysia, where homosexuality is condemned under the country’s federal and religious justice systems, which dole out punishments that may include whipping or up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
Films screened in Malaysia, a country of 30 million, are permitted to show gay characters so long as they repent or die.
The country is known for its regressive policies on LGBTQ rights, as The Huffington Post previously reported. In the past, Prime Minister Najib Razak has compared the LGBTQ community to the self-titled Islamic State terror group, suggesting both are enemies of Islam.
For now, whether or not Malaysian viewers will get to see the “Beauty and the Beast” reboot in their country is unclear.