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Beauty and the Beast: Malaysian film censors back down in 'gay moment' row

Country’s censorship board approves 13-plus rating after previously demanding Disney cut gay scene from live-action remake before release

Dan Stevens and Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

Gwilym Mumford

Tuesday 21 March 2017 11.09 EDT

Beauty and the Beast will be screened in Malaysia without cuts, although censors have given the film a 13-plus age rating due to the film containing a “gay moment”.

The Film Censorship Board of Malaysia had previously said the Disney movie would only be approved for release if four minutes of material were removed. The studio refused to make the cuts and appealed the board’s decision.

Now the censors have apparently relented. “We are pleased to announce that Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has now been approved to be released in Malaysia with no cuts, with a P13 rating,” the studio said in a statement. The rating prohibits children under the age of 13 from seeing the film will unless accompanied by an adult.

Earlier, the censorship board chairman had suggested that the film’s director, Bill Condon, had forced the board’s hand. “Maybe if Condon had not mentioned the gay element people wouldn’t be so curious, and we could let it go with a potentially minor cut,” Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid told Malaysia’s New Straits Times.

“Malaysia does not recognise the LGBT ideology,” he added, “so we have to be extra-cautious in our work. We have our responsibilities to the country, the people and our constitution. If we let these scenes pass, people will wonder if Malaysia recognises LGBT.” The country has strict laws against homosexual behaviour, and films are only permitted to feature gay characters if they are portrayed in a negative light or show repentance for their sexuality.

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