Disney Pixar’s Lightyear is officially banned across 14 Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian markets for its controversial depiction of a homosexual relationship.
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Indonesia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Malaysia, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Palestinian territories, Syria, and Iraq have banned the film’s release in those countries.
Depicting homosexual relationships in a movie is illegal in many Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Strict rules around movie content mean these countries often ask studios to edit out things deemed controversial or offensive.
The ban comes after Walt Disney Co. declined to remove scenes featuring the homosexual relationship, including a kiss between two married female characters.
Disney typically refuses to make cuts or changes that interfere with “the integrity of a movie” or that it views as inequitable, a spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.
A similar scenario occurred with the release of Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness from Marvel Studios, which Disney owns. The film was banned in Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia after the studio declined to remove 12 seconds of LGBTQ-related material, The Dallas Express reported.
As reported by The Dallas Express, Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek has stated the company “unequivocally stands” with the LGBTQ community.
However, in a recently published interview with The Mercury News, a Lightyear producer stated that Disney executives were “supportive” of the homosexual relationship, but “there was definite pushback” to the kiss.
A group of Pixar employees sent a statement to leadership in March expressing frustration about the company’s approach to LGBTQ content.
“Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it,” the statement read. “Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is a protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.”
According to Rufo, Disney Executive Producer Latoya Raveneau reportedly stated her team was implementing a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” and regularly “adding queerness” to children’s programs.
Rufo also mentioned Production Coordinator Allen Martsch apparently said his team was tracking the amount of “canonical trans characters, canonical asexual characters, [and] canonical bisexual characters” to ensure their representation.
U.S. officials have criticized Disney for such representation, accusing the company of pushing LGBTQ content onto audiences.
In a letter sent to Disney CEO Chapek, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana) claimed the company has “capitulated to far-left activists” on LGBTQ issues.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shared a similar sentiment, arguing that Disney uses LGBTQ advocacy to try and better its image, per The Dallas Express.
No decisions have been made about Lightyear beyond the theatrical release stage, and it is not known whether it will be shown on Disney+ in the countries where it has been banned from theaters.