Major cinemas across the Muslim-majority Malaysia have decided to postpone the new Disney movie "Beauty and the Beast" indefinitely. This decision still holds even after the scene showing the much talked about "exclusively gay moment" was cut, according to CNBC Tuesday.
"Due to unforeseen circumstances, the release of 'Beauty and the Beast' has been postponed until further notice," TGV Cinemas said on its website, adding that it would refund customers who had bought tickets in advance.
Malaysian Censorship Board chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid said the movie has been given a P13 classification, meaning parental guidance is advisable for children under 13 years, after a "gay moment" was cut. "Decision on classification and clearance was given a week ago," he told Reuters. "We are not aware of postponement. Hope they screen the film soon," he said.
The film's characters include manservant LeFou, who plays the sidekick to the story's villain Gaston, and, according to director Bill Condon, "is confused about his sexuality." Condon has described a brief scene as a "gay moment."
Russia last week approved the movie but banned children under 16 from watching it.
CNBC noted that Malaysia has restricted other Hollywood movies in prior years that censors considered religiously insensitive, including 1998's "The Prince of Egypt," which showed the story of Moses in the book of Exodus. Also, 1995's "Babe" was blocked since a pig, an unclean animal, according to Islam, was the main character.
Malaysia's censors in 2010 loosened decades of restrictions on sexual and religious content in movies, but still kept a tight leash on tiny bikinis, kisses and passionate hugs. The new rules allow depiction of gay characters, but only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light. Sodomy, even if consensual, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and whipping in Malaysia.