SINGAPORE – Social conservatives and religious circles in Singapore and Malaysia are opposing the new Disney movie Beauty and the Beast because of the inclusion of a gay character.
LeFou, a side character in the film portrayed by actor Josh Gad, is the first homosexual character in a Disney movie.
“The inclusion of the gay moment to the story by way of the sub-plot is totally unnecessary and signals a marked departure from the 1991 Disney series,” the
National Council of Churches Singapore said in a March 13 statement.
The organization sent the statement to pastors and church leaders ahead of the film’s opening in Singapore today.
“We would like our parents to be aware of this strand in the movie and its possible influence on their children who watch it, however subtle,” the organization of churches said.
TheCatholic Diocese of Singapore has also released its own statement, stating that parents “must discern and reflect with their children on whether the lifestyle is consonant with the teaching of Christ.”
The diocese said parents “must explain the implications and the consequences of such a lifestyle for themselves and society.”
Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority gave the film a PG 13 rating (Parental Guidance) for depicting “mild violence” and refuted claims that the decision was due to the gay character in the film. The PG 13 rating mandates parental guidance for viewers under 13 years.
The churches’ statements have met with some criticism online that slammed the public manner in which the statements were released. Some see the churches’ moves as an attempted imposition of Christian values on the general public.
In Muslim-majority Malaysia, the movie’s opening is being questioned. According to the BBC, Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board gave the film a P13 rating earlier this week, similar to Singapore’s PG13, after the scene was cut.
But Disney decided this week not to remove the scene and it’s unclear when, if ever, the film will play in Malaysia.
Homosexuality is illegal in Singapore and Malaysia. In both countries, it is a crime punishable by a prison sentence and corporal punishment. Though in Singapore, the law is generally not enforced. Beauty and the Beast opens in the U.S. on Friday, March 17.
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan is a Senior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
Your tax-deductible contribution helps student writers
and artists at Youth Journalism International. Thank you for being generous!