It’s a well-known fact that Hollywood movies sometimes have to make concessions when releasing their films in foreign markets. Cultural differences mean what is no big deal at home can be a deal breaker abroad. And with the international box office factoring more and more into the decision-making of executives, removing an “offending” moment is an artistic compromise that can hugely pay off.
To this end, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake scrubbed the “gay moment” featuring Josh Gad’s LeFou at the request of Malaysian official censors. In Malaysia, discrimination against LGBT people is prevalent and sodomy is criminalized, with punishments ranging from fines to prison. There is a long-standing edict within the Malaysian film community that LBGT characters may only be present if they are portrayed as converting to heterosexuality.
Everything seemed to be smooth sailing — or as smooth as sailing can be when bending to the whims of country that thinks LGBT people are sub-human. A spokesman for Malaysia even told the Associated Press, “We have approved [Beauty and the Beast], but there is a minor cut involving a gay moment. It is only one short scene, but it is inappropriate because many children will be watching this movie.”
However, as of today the Disney live-action remake has mysteriously been removed from the Malaysian movie listings, despite the fact it’s supposed to be released this Thursday. Variety reached out to Disney, but they had no comment. The only hint is the Malaysian theater chain Golden Screen Cinemas apologetic yet vague statement on their website saying the film has been “postponed by Disney until further notice.” This makes is sound as if the hold-up is due to the Mouse House and not the Malaysian government, but without an official line from Disney, your guess is as good as anyone else’s.