Disney bosses have reportedly pulled plans to release their live-action remake of Beauty And The Beast in Malaysia after having to cut a “gay moment” from the movie.
Josh Gad’s portrayal of LeFou has caused a stir as Disney’s first gay character, who realizes he has feelings for villain Gaston, portrayed by Luke Evans.
According to the Associated Press, a minor gay scene was cut from the version of the film submitted to officials at the conservative country’s Film Censorship Board, who granted the edit a P13 rating, which means children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
“We have approved it but there is a minor cut involving a gay moment,” Film Censorship Board chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid told the outlet. “It is only one short scene but it is inappropriate because many children will be watching this movie.”
Homosexuality is punishable by law in the mostly-Muslim country.
Disney chiefs did not appeal the censorship ruling, but executives at two of Malaysia’s leading cinema chains have cancelled all planned screenings of Beauty and the Beast, and although they offered refunds to customers who had already bought tickets, they did not provide a reason for the change, just days before its previously scheduled release.
Representatives for Disney have yet to comment on the Associated Press report, but Malaysian paper The Star obtained a statement from a spokesperson at the local film studio office, who claimed the movie’s release was postponed for an “internal review”.
The news comes just days after officials at Russia’s Culture Ministry banned youths under 16 from viewing the new film, starring Emma Watson as Belle, which is being touted as a family-friendly movie around the rest of the world as it opens this week (ends17Mar17).
Russian censors objected to the inclusion of Gad’s homosexual character. So-called “gay propaganda” among kids is banned in Russian under a three-year-old law.
The conservative owners of a cinema in Alabama have also opted not to screen Beauty and the Beast.