Activist countries

Disney and gay rights: why is “Lightyear” banned in some countries?

Disney and Pixar’s latest film, “Lightyear,” hits theaters this week, but some countries have chosen not to show – or outright ban – the film. The film’s portrayal of an LGBTQ character is fueling controversy. On Tuesday, 14 countries said they would not allow the film to be shown, likely because of the character’s on-screen kiss.

It was announced by Twitter On Monday, “Lightyear” is “not permitted to be shown to the public in any theaters in the (UAE) due to its violation of the country’s media content standards.” Although the message did not cite the specific reason for the ban on the film, same-sex relations are a criminal offense in the United Arab Emirates, as well as in many adjacent predominantly Islamic countries.

Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kuwait and Egypt will also not show the film, although their representatives have not publicly stated the reasoning behind the bans.

Disney has yet to make an official statement about which countries in the Middle East and Asia are banning “Lightyear.”

China is unlikely to screen the film either, Reuters reports. The country censors almost all homosexuality in film and television and has banned Disney movies in the past. All four Marvel movies released in 2021 have been banned by the country, along with this year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” according to Business Insider.

Chinese authorities asked Disney to remove the same-sex kissing scene from the film, but the company refused. The move follows Disney’s latest statement against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Disney employees shared their disagreement with the bill when it was first announced, but company management refrained from lobbying against it. An official statement given on “Good Morning America” ​​in March, “The greatest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce.”

Following an annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, Disney CEO Bob Chapek acknowledged the company’s belated response. Chapek has since raised concerns with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and coordinated with the Human Rights Campaign. The company’s recent efforts, however, have raised eyebrows among some activists.

From Joni Madison, Acting President of the Human Rights Campaign: “While Disney has taken the regrettable position of choosing to remain silent amid political attacks on LGBTQ+ families in Florida – including working families employed by Disney – today hey took a step in the right direction. But it was only a first step. »

Amid the related “Lightyear” controversy, cast members have spoken publicly about the film’s censorship in other countries.

Chris Evans — who plays a young Buzz Lightyear — said at the film’s world premiere: “It’s frustrating. … It feels good to be part of something that makes social progress, but it’s with that sliver of bittersweet frustration that at the same time there are still places that don’t haven’t caught up.

Keke Palmer, the voice of Izzy Hawthorne, said she remains hopeful the world can change.

“We’re going through,” Palmer said. “I have a lot of faith. I think storytelling and cinema sometimes aren’t ahead of their time, but they’re on the brink.