KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Walt Disney blockbuster “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in Malaysia this month without any cuts, the company said on Tuesday, after censors had earlier asked for the removal of a “gay moment” in the movie.
Malaysia’s censor board last week barred the movie from screening in the Muslim-majority country if Disney did not remove the gay scene. Homosexuality is discouraged by religious leaders in Malaysia.
Disney refused to make the cut and local distributors asked the censor board to review the decision.
“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 PG13 rating,” the company said in a statement. PG13 rating means parental guidance is advisable for children under 13 years.
The censor board was not immediately available for comment on the reversal of its decision.
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 character, LeFou, the sidekick to the film’s primary villain, Gaston, sparked calls among some ultra-conservative groups around the world for a boycott of the film.
The movie made $170 million over the weekend in North America, setting a new record for a March opening.
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 A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Nick Macfie