Lightyear: UAE, Malaysia and others ban Pixar film for kissing lesbian characters


The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar on Monday banned Disney-Pixar’s animated film Lightyear from theaters because of its depiction of homosexual characters.

The film is not allowed to be shown in the UAE because it violates the national media content standard, the Ministry of Youth and Culture’s Media Regulatory Authority wrote on Twitter.

The UAE’s decision to ban Lightyear seems particularly ominous as it comes during the ongoing Pride Month, an international celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.

Rashid Khalfan Al Nuaimi, executive director of the Office of Media Regulation, later told Reuters that the film had been banned due to the inclusion of “gay” characters in several scenes.

A Disney spokesman did not immediately respond to emailed questions from Reuters about the ban, which drew praise from some on social media across the country.

Like many other countries in the Middle East, same-sex relations are criminalized in the United Arab Emirates, a Gulf nation of about 10 million people, most of whom are foreigners.

The Lightyear movie, which will be released in UAE cinemas on June 16, is based on the Buzz Lightyear action figure from the popular Toy Story franchise.

The film stars Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz and Uzo Aduba as Alicia Hawthorne. Aduba’s character has an affair with another woman he loves in the film.

Before Monday’s decision, an Arab hashtag trended on Twitter calling for the film not to be shown in the United Arab Emirates.

In the past, films depicting same-sex relationships have been banned by regulators in Muslim-majority countries, while in others films containing profanity or illegal drug use are sometimes censored.

The United Arab Emirates Media Regulatory Authority announced in December that international versions of films will be screened in the country.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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