The United Arab Emirates (UAE) banned the theatrical screening of the animated feature film on Monday June 13 Buzz Lightning by Walt Disney-Pixar, because it depicts a relationship between two characters of the same sex. Media regulatory office executive director Rashid Khalfan Al Nuaimi told Reuters the film was banned due to the inclusion of characters “homosexuals” in several scenes. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by the Federal Penal Code in the United Arab Emirates. Disney has yet to comment.
Buzz Lightningwhich was due to be released in the UAE on Thursday, June 16, features the famous character from the saga “Toy Story”, but also a female character, Alisha Hawthorne, who is in a relationship with another woman, whom she kisses in the film. A scene that was originally cut by Pixar studios, a subsidiary of Disney.
Employees of Pixar and Disney then rose up, criticizing the attitude of the world’s number one entertainment company, accused of not committing to defending the rights of LGBTQ + people.
The controversy was further reignited after the adoption in Florida of a controversial law prohibiting teaching on sexual orientation in public schools. Bob Chapek, the CEO of the company which employs more than 75,000 people in its Disney World amusement park in Orlando, in this state in the south-east of the United States, was in turmoil after saying he hesitated to oppose this law.
According to specialized Hollywood media, it was following this controversy that the kissing scene was reinserted into Buzz Lightning. She now appears in all versions of the film, regardless of the country of destination. The film’s producer, Galyn Susman, broached the subject in early April when presenting the film to the press. “Being able to deliver that kiss was important to us. It’s a touching moment.” having a great significance in the plot because it allows Buzz to realize that, unlike his friend, he does not have a loved one or a child, she had explained.
Other countries should follow
According to a source who had access to the file, interviewed by Agence France-Presse (AFP), eleven other countries could follow in the footsteps of the UAE. The list of these countries, which are overwhelmingly Muslim, is as follows: Malaysia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and Iraq.
Buzz Lightning should therefore not be screened in Indonesia or Malaysia, two countries in Southeast Asia with an ultra-majority Muslim population. “We suggested the owners of the film consider their audience in Indonesia, where a kiss between LGBT people is still considered sensitive”told AFP Rommy Fibri Hardiyanto, Indonesian head of the censorship commission under the leadership of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The film is not strictly speaking banned in Indonesia but the authorities say they are still waiting for the ” definitive version “ requested from Disney, especially with the subtitles. “The ball is in their court”, said Rommy Fibri Hardiyanto. In Malaysia, the censorship board asked Disney to cut two scenes “not suitable for children”said an interior ministry official who asked to remain anonymous.