Entertainment & Arts

Russia gives Beauty and the Beast a 16+ rating

Beauty and the Beast Image copyright Disney
Image caption The movie's trailer had almost 130 million views in 24 hours

Russia's Culture Ministry is to allow the release of Disney's Beauty and the Beast - but children under the age of 16 will not be allowed to see it.

The ministry has granted permission for the film - due out in Russia next week - to be screened with a 16+ age rating.

The decision comes after a Russian MP petitioned Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky to ban it over the inclusion of a gay character.

A Russian law prohibits the spreading of "gay propaganda" among minors.

The 2013 legislation, which angered human rights activists and the international gay community, describes homosexuality as "non-traditional sexual relations".

More on gay rights in Russia

Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon has spoken about the "exclusively gay moment" in the film.

It involves LeFou, played by US actor Josh Gad, who is a sidekick of the film's main antagonist Gaston.

Image copyright Disney
Image caption Josh Gad as LeFou (left) and Luke Evans as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast

LeFou tries to come to terms with feelings for Gaston that swing between lust and admiration, as a side-plot to the main story.

Emma Watson plays Belle, the young girl who falls in love with a monstrous beast with a dark secret.

Her suitors - the Beast and Gaston - are played by British stars Dan Stevens and Luke Evans.

The rest of the cast includes Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Kevin Kline and Stanley Tucci.

Last week, Vitaly Milonov, an MP of the governing United Russia party, urged Mr Medinsky to hold a screening of the film ahead of its release to see if it complied with the law and to "take measures to totally ban" it if he found "elements of propaganda of homosexuality".

The culture ministry told the Associated Press news agency that its decision to give a 16+ rating followed petitions by Mr Milonov.

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