Josh Gad’s character LeFou is “confused about his sexuality”, says director Bill Condon.
Disney has appealed against the Malaysian removal of a “gay moment” in its new release, “Beauty and the Beast”, as the Hollywood giant postponed its release of the movie.
The film has angered religious groups with its depiction of LeFou, the sycophantic sidekick to antagonist Gaston, as gay, making him Disney’s first LGBT character.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and sodomy can result in imprisonment and corporal punishment. Homosexual characters can only be depicted if they show repentance or are portrayed negatively.
After the Malaysian authorities cut a song featuring LeFou, Disney said it would not release an edited version of the movie. A spokesman for the studio told the BBC that the film “has not been and will not be cut” for release.
But Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, head of Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board, told AFP that Disney had appealed to the home ministry and the release had reportedly been postponed until March 30.
Director Bill Condon said the movie contained Disney’s “first exclusively gay moment”, although those who have seen the film say it is mild and fleeting. Condon said the character of LeFou is “confused about his sexuality”.
“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,” Abdul Hamid said. Of LeFou’s song he said: “The way he dances is…gay and the dialogue and the lyrics of the song are too. In the same scene he also lifts up his shirt and shows a love bite on his tummy. Even I wanted to bring my grandchildren to watch it. But there are rules. We don’t support LGBT.”
The film has angered religious groups in Singapore and Russia banned under-16s from seeing it. It was banned by a cinema in Alabama because of the controversial scene.
“If we cannot take our 11-year-old granddaughter and eight-year-old grandson to see a movie, we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me, then we have no business showing it,” the owners of the Hengar Drive-In Theater posted on Facebook before deleting the comment.
But the movie is already the fastest-selling family film in history, eclipsing the previous record-holder “Finding Dory”, according to online ticket seller Fandango and the movie was poised for up to a US$245 million worldwide opening, according to Deadline.
Picture credit: Wikimedia