Russia Has a Beef With Beauty and the Beast

Bans kids under 16 from seeing the movie over its gay character
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2017 3:09 PM CST
This image released by Disney shows Emma Watson as Belle, right, and Kevin Kline as Maurice in a scene from "Beauty and the Beast."    (Laurie Sparham)
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(Newser) – Sorry, kids: Children under age 16 won't be able to see Disney's Beauty and the Beast in Russia because it includes a gay character, the Russian Culture Ministry said Tuesday. The ministry told the AP that its decision for the 16-plus rating followed petitions by ultraconservative lawmaker Vitaly Milonov for the live-action film to be banned. Milonov protested screening a movie that disseminates "overt and shameless propaganda of sin and sexual perversion under the guise of a fairy tale." The film's brief scene in question involves the character of LeFou (Josh Gad), sidekick to the preening villain Gaston (Luke Evans). At the film's March 2 premiere in Los Angeles, director Bill Condon suggested that describing LeFou as Disney's first gay character went too far. "I keep saying it's more like the first gay moment," he said. "Because I think it's a very fluid character."

The director added: "You can't help but wonder in his adoration of Gaston ... (is there) something more going on?" Milonov, who was elected to the State Duma last year, is a former local lawmaker in St. Petersburg who has built his political career on opposing LGBT rights. In 2013, Russia passed a federal law banning "gay propaganda" among minors. It was worded vaguely so it can be applied in a wide range of circumstances, for example, making it easy to target gay and lesbian teachers in Russia because they work directly with children. In the US, one Alabama drive-in theater has canceled plans to show the film, which opens next week and stars Emma Watson as Belle. (Read more Beauty and the Beast stories.)

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