Pixar’s Lightyear banned in Saudi Arabia and UAE over same-sex kiss

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have banned the upcoming Pixar animated feature Lightyear from showing in movie theatres amid reports that the film includes a kiss between two female characters.The Emirates, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, announced through its Media Regulatory Office of the country’s Ministry of Youth and Culture that the film would not be opening in the country this Thursday.The film “is not licensed for public screening in all cinemas in the UAE, due to its violation of the country’s media content standards”, the office said in a tweet.”The office confirms that all films screened in cinemas across the country are subject to follow-up and evaluation before the date of screening to the public, to ensure the safety of the circulated content according to the appropriate age classification.”Reports suggest Lightyear was never submitted to censors in Saudi, knowing that it would not pass. Source: AP / Pixar/APThe office did not elaborate on the tweet and did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.The tweet included an image of the film’s poster, with the profile image of its main character Buzz Lightyear with a “no” symbol over it in red.Movie theatres in the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, had already advertised showtimes for the film.The movie, with actor Chris Evans voicing the inspiration for the Buzz Lightyear action figure from the Toy Story films, reportedly includes a scene involving a new lesbian space ranger character named Alisha and her partner who are starting a family together and greet each other with a kiss on the lips.The scene had been originally cut from the film by Disney but it was reinstated when Pixar animators spoke out against Disney in an open letter obtained by Variety, saying that Disney had demanded cuts, censoring “overtly gay affection” and in protest against Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.News outlet Variety understands that Lightyear, which is set for United States release in 17 June, was never submitted to censors in Saudi, knowing that it would not pass. But the film had instead been initially approved for release in the UAE, where censorship restrictions have been loosening up. However, in a significant setback, the license to play the film in the UAE was suddenly revoked following calls on social media accusing Disney and Lightyear of insulting Muslims and Islam.READ MORENether Italia Film, which distributes Disney films in the region, nor Disney in London responded to requests for comment.Censorship in Saudi Arabia has recently also kept local audiences from watching Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, due to the inclusion of a gay character; as well as Marvel’s Eternals, after Disney refused to make edits that included the pic’s same-sex kiss; and also West Side Story, because it features a transgender character.In the West Asia region movies concerning or containing sex, homosexuality and religious issues are routinely cut to comply with censorship rules. The UAE, like much of the wider Mideast, is a Muslim-led nation that criminalises same-sex relationships. The US State Department warns that Islamic, or Shariah, law can include the death penalty for same-sex conduct, while Dubai can levy a 10-year prison sentence and Abu Dhabi allows for up to 14 years.However, such prosecutions are rarely reported and LGBTIQ individuals do live in the skyscraper-studded city-state of Dubai, home to the long-haul carrier Emirates.The $US200 million ($A287 million) Lightyear is expected to be a major draw for Disney, with analysts estimating it could gross over $US100 million ($A143 million) in its first weekend.With Reuters.