Disney and Pixar’s upcoming animated movie “Lightyear” will not play in theaters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and other countries in the Middle East and Asia due to the presence of a same-sex kiss in the film, according to a Variety report.
In the “Toy Story” prequel film, there is a kiss between a gay space ranger named Alisha and her partner, the report indicates. Movies that feature LGBTQ+ characters or even references to them are oftentimes censored or outright banned in many countries in the Middle East because homosexuality is illegal in those areas.
Separately, Reuters reported Monday that the film would be banned in 14 countries, including Egypt, Lebanon and Indonesia, and is unlikely to open in the world’s largest movie market, China.
had similar theatrical-release blockages for its recent films “The Eternals,” which was barred in the area for its portrayal of a same-gender couple and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first openly gay superhero, and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which features the character America Chavez, a lesbian hero who first appeared in Marvel Comics in 2011.
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Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as other countries around the Persian Gulf, have also censored the films “West Side Story” over its inclusion of a transgender character, and Pixar’s “Onward” over a reference to lesbian parents. The ban for these films applies to theatrical releases in those countries, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Disney did not immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment.
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The United Arab Emirates said through its Media Regulatory Office of the country’s Ministry of Youth and Culture that the film would not be releasing in theaters in the country this week.
“‘Lightyear’ … is not licensed for public screening in all cinemas in the UAE, due to its violation of the country’s media content standards,” the office said in a tweet. “The office confirms that all films screened in cinemas across the country are subject to follow-up and evaluation before the date of screening to the public, to ensure the safety of the circulated content according to the appropriate age classification.”
The “Lightyear” film, which stars Chris Evans, is still set for its U.S. release on June 17.