UAE bans same-sex kiss from ‘Lightyears’ Disney movie

Disney’s new film “Light Years,” an offshoot of the “Toy Story” franchise, is facing bans or restrictions in parts of Southeast Asia and the Middle East over a kiss scene between two women. The animated film opens worldwide this week.

The United Arab Emirates has banned “Light Years” from public screenings, and Malaysia has asked Disney to cut several scenes from the film before it can be shown in local cinemas, according to officials in the Muslim-majority country.

In Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, the chairman of the film censorship board told The New York Times on Wednesday that the kissing scene could violate a law that bans the screening of films of “abnormal sexual behavior.”

“The Film Censorship Board doesn’t want to get involved in the pro-LGBT versus anti-LGBT debate,” said chair Rommy Fibri. “But that kiss scene was very sensitive.”

Disney did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The international backlash against Lightyear is a new PR conundrum for Disney, whose growing willingness to publicly defend LGBTQ people has made it an unlikely cultural lightning rod for the United States.

Disney describes Lightyear, created by Pixar Animation Studios and directed by Angus McLean, as a “defining origin story” for the character Buzz Lightyear, who was featured in the 1995 film Toy Story and several sequels Space Ranger.

Lightyear focuses on the friendship between Buzz (voiced by Chris Evans) and another space ranger, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba). Alisha is married to a woman, and in one scene, she greets her wife with a kiss.

Disney’s chief executive, Bob Chapek, came under intense pressure from many of the company’s employees earlier this year to take a strong stand against anti-LGBTQ legislation that passed the legislature in Florida, home to the Disney World resort. location.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in late March, and Disney has publicly condemned it. The Florida House of Representatives later voted to rescind Disney World’s special tax designation, a privilege that theme parks near Orlando have enjoyed for more than half a century.

The international backlash against Lightyear has drawn far less public attention in the U.S. than the Disney-DeSantis conflict. But it’s a reminder to the company that the cultural clash of children’s content doesn’t end at the U.S. border.

In the United Arab Emirates, the Government’s Office of Media Regulation say on twitter This week, “Light Year” was denied permission to show in domestic theaters for violating the country’s “media content standards.” The agency did not elaborate or respond to a request for comment.

In Malaysia, “Light Years” can be screened in its current form on Netflix, but the film review board has asked Disney to change several scenes, including a “romantic” one, before it can be shown in cinemas, a ministry spokesman said. Ministry of the Interior.

In Indonesia, Mr. Romi of the Film Censorship Board said officials there had flagged the kissing scene to Disney and were waiting for the company to send the finished film with subtitles for review. “We’re not saying we reject the film,” he said.

Mr Romi added that a film with a gay kissing scene may not pass in Indonesia due to a 2019 law banning films containing “vulgar sex” or “deviant” or “unreasonable” pornography review.

Openly gay, lesbian and transgender people face persecution throughout the Islamic world. In Malaysia, the legislation against them is rooted in the Inquisition and the British colonial-era ban on Muslims and non-Muslims. In Indonesia, where nearly nine-tenths of the country’s 270 million people are Muslim, some politicians have sought to associate LGBTQ people with immorality, disease and the subversion of Indonesian culture.

Italian Film International, which distributes Disney films in the Middle East and promotes “Light Years” on its website, did not respond to a request for comment.

As of Wednesday, it was unclear how the film would be released in other countries in the Middle East and Asia. Film censors in Saudi Arabia and China, a major market for Hollywood studios, did not respond to requests for comment.

In Singapore, the Infocomm Media Development Authority said in a statement this week that viewers must be at least 16 years old to watch Lightyear. It described the film as “the first commercial children’s animation to feature an openly gay depiction” and said Disney rejected proposals to release two versions of the film, including one edited for younger audiences.

“While this is an excellent animated film set in the United States, Singapore is a diverse society and we have multiple feelings and perspectives,” Cheryl Ng, chair of the agency’s film advisory group, said in the statement.

Muktita Suhartono and Liany MK Contribution report. Li You contributed research.

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