KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 Malaysia stood by its
decision to bar "Beauty and the Beast" from cinemas without a
"gay moment" being cut as the worldwide rollout of the Walt
Disney movie began on Thursday.
Starring Emma Watson as young Belle who falls in love with
the Beast, the film features a gay character for the first time
in Disney's history.
The company refused to make the cut and pulled the film from
cinemas across the Muslim-majority country where homosexuality
is discouraged by religious leaders.
"The film has not been and will not be cut for Malaysia,"
Disney said in a statement.
Asked it Malaysia would change its mind on its demand for
the cut, Censorship Board chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid said:
"Still the same decision."
He added that local distributors had asked for a review of
the decision. The board is expected to meet on Tuesday.
The film opened in neighbouring Singapore on Thursday with a
"parental guidance" rating. The world rollout happens over the
next few days.
Last year, Singapore organisers of the musical "Les
Miserables" cut a scene in which two male actors kissed so that
the show could retain a "general" rating and reach a wider
The Communications Office of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese
of Singapore warned viewers about the likely content of "Beauty
and the Beast".
"With extensive media reports of the purported 'gay moment'
in this movie, we believe that parents must discern and reflect
with their children on whether the lifestyle portrayed is
consonant with the teaching of Christ," it said in a statement.
In next-door Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim
population, the movie opens on Friday with a 13+ classification
and without any cuts.
Some Islamic groups in Indonesia have launched protests
targeting western entertainment in the past, leading to the
cancellation for instance of a performance by pop star Lady Gaga
The movie opens in China and India on Friday. In India, it
has been given a U/A rating which means unrestricted public
showing but with guidance for children under 12.
The gay character in the live-action remake of the 1991
animated version has sparked calls among some ultra-conservative
groups around the world for a boycott.
A U.S. evangelist preacher said last week that the film was
trying to promote an LGBT agenda to children.
Lyle Shelton, managing director of the conservative
Australian Christian Lobby, said he was concerned by reports of
"sexualised content" in the movie but that he wouldn't start a
public campaign against it.
"There's a lot of battles. This is just one of many things
in our culture which ignores the innocence of children," he told
Malaysia has previously blocked the release of Hollywood
movies deemed religiously insensitive, such as 1998's "The
Prince of Egypt", which depicted the Biblical story of Moses,
and 1995's "Babe", which featured a pig as the main character.
Muslims consider pigs unclean.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon in Kuala Lumpur; Additional
reporting by Byron Kaye in Sydney, Marius Zaharia in Singapore,
Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai and
Cindy Silvania and Fransiska Nangoy in Jakarta; Editing by Nick