Lightyear – the long-awaited Toy Story prequel from Disney-Pixar studios – has so far been banned in 14 Asian and Middle Eastern countries due to its depiction of a lesbian marriage and a same-sex kiss.
The film was first banned in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose Media Regulatory Office of the Ministry of Youth and Culture announced on June 13 that Lightyear was banned from screening in all cinemas for “its violation of the country’s media content standards“.
The countries that have banned the film include: Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the UAE.
“We were warned that this would be a likely outcome,” US producer Galyn Susman told AFP.
“But we weren’t going to change the film we wanted to make just because of some countries with – for lack of a better term – backward beliefs,” she added.
Susman adds her voice to those of the film’s cast who earlier this week expressed disappointment over censorship of the film because of LGBT+ content.
“It’s frustrating,” said Chris Evans, who voices titular character Buzz Lightyear. “It feels good to be a part of something that is making social progress, but it’s with this ribbon of bittersweet frustration that at the same time, there are still places that have not caught up.”
The film features a character called Alisha, a lesbian space ranger voiced by actor Uzo Aduba.
The scene in question features her starting a family with her partner and sharing a kiss as a greeting.
“I feel like it’s terrible, but at the same time, I feel like we’re going to push through that,” said actor Keke Palmer, who plays the character Izzy Hawthorne.
“I have a lot of faith and I think storytelling and filmmaking … not to say before its time, but it’s on the brink of things like this.
“I just feel like, you know what? It is what it is. I’m glad it’s out there where it is and I know in the future it’ll be in those places as well,” she added.
The film is also banned from release in the southeast Asian country of Malaysia. The censorship body of Malaysia, called LPF, asked Disney for edits prior to banning.
The LPF has already banned ‘Rocketman’ the biopic of Elton John starring Taron Egerton and ‘Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore,’ over LGBT+ storylines.