Asia

Beauty and the Beast: Malaysia 'to show uncut version'

Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast Image copyright Disney
Image caption Emma Watson stars as Belle in the live-action remake

Beauty and the Beast will be released in Malaysia without any cuts, Disney says, days after it rejected censors' demands for a gay scene to be removed.

The blockbuster would be released on 30 March with a PG13 rating, Disney said.

Two major cinema chains have confirmed the new date, two weeks after the postponed opening on 16 March.

The film has offended social conservatives for making LeFou, sidekick to villain Gaston, the first openly gay character in a Disney film.

Homosexual activity is illegal in Malaysia under both secular and religious laws. It is punishable by a prison sentence or corporal punishment.

Gay characters can be shown in films, but only if they are portrayed negatively or repent.

Beauty and the Beast pulled from Kuwaiti cinemas

Image copyright Disney
Image caption LeFou, played by Josh Gad (right), is Disney's first openly gay character

The film, starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, has taken more than $350m (£282m) around the world.

Director Bill Condon says Le Fou "is confused about his sexuality" and that the film shows a brief "gay moment".

The head of Malaysia's Film Censorship Board, Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, told the Associated Press on 15 March that the scene in question was "inappropriate because many children will be watching this movie".

The board asked for cuts - something Disney rejected. Local distributors then asked the board to review the decision to block the film.

The move had also sparked ire on social media and the tourism minister, Seri Nazri Aziz, had said banning the film was "ridiculous".

There was no immediate comment from the board on the apparent reversal.

Beauty and the Beast has also raised hackles elsewhere.

In neighbouring Singapore, where sex between men is technically illegal, the Anglican Church has issued a warning to parents over the film. In Russia, it has been given a 16+ rating and, most recently, it has also been pulled from Kuwaiti cinemas.

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