The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday (June 13) banned the theatrical screening of Walt Disney-Pixar’s animated feature “Buzz Lightyear” 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 “homosexual” characters in several scenes. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by the Federal Penal Code in the United Arab Emirates. Disney has yet to comment.
“Buzz Lightyear”, which was to be released in the UAE on Thursday, June 16, features the famous character from the “Toy Story” saga, 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.
A scene that disrupted the production
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 at its Disney World amusement park in Orlando, in this state in the southeastern 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 in “Buzz Lightyear”. 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” with great plot significance because it allows Buzz to realize that, unlike his friend, he doesn’t have a loved one or a child, she explained.
Other countries should follow
A source with access to the file was interviewed by Agence France-Presse. Eleven other countries could follow in the UAE’s footsteps. The list of these countries, overwhelmingly Muslim, is as follows: Malaysia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and Iraq.
“Buzz Lightyear” should therefore not be screened in Indonesia or Malaysia, two Southeast Asian countries with ultra-majority Muslim populations. “We suggested to the owners of the film to think about their audience in Indonesia, where a kiss between LGBT people is still considered sensitive,” Rommy Fibri Hardiyanto, head of the Indonesian censorship commission, told Agence France-Presse. placed 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 “final version” requested from Disney, in particular with the subtitles. “The ball is in their court,” said Rommy Fibri Hardiyanto. In Malaysia, the censorship board asked Disney to cut two scenes “which are not suitable for children”, said a Home Ministry official who asked to remain anonymous.