Malaysia’s Top Censor Blames Beauty and the Beast Director for the Film Imbroglio

Posted 2017/03/20280

Had Bill Condon not spoken about gay element in Beauty and the Beast, the movie would have released in Malaysia, says head of Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board.

In an interview published on Sunday by New Straits Times, Hamid said the Censorship Board, known as the LPF, wanted to cut four minutes and 38 seconds from the film. The proposed cuts came in three places, reports Variety.

The first was during the performance of a song in which the character Le Fou hugs his hero, the villain Gaston, from behind. The second was of “suggestive song lyrics with sexual innuendos.” And the third was a scene at the end of the movie that Abdul Hamid declined to identify but that is most likely the bit in which Le Fou has what director Bill Condon calls a “gay moment.”

“The length of the [proposed cut to the] song was about three seconds, but we could not recommend a three-second cut as it would make the song choppy and people would be angry. The other cuts are on the actions,” said Abdul Hamid.

He also said that publicity surrounding the film and Condon’s statements had made the problem more acute for the censors. Abdul Hamid said the LPF’s curiosity had been raised by the homosexual elements introduced into the live-action film that were not present in the 1991 animated original. And he said that viewers had emailed the censors prior to the movie’s certification.

“Maybe if Condon had not mentioned the ‘gay element,’ people wouldn’t be so curious and we could let it go with a potentially minor cut. And this whole thing may not have been an issue. We at LPF want to preserve films as much as how they are intended by the director, but the moment the ‘gay element’ is thrown into the mix, we had to protect ourselves,” Abdul Hamid said in the published interview.

“Malaysia does not recognise the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) ideology, so we have to be extra cautious in our work. If we let these scenes pass, people will wonder if Malaysia recognises LGBT,” said Hamid in the New Straits Times interview.

Malaysia’s film associations have made clear their position on LGBT matters in the past. In 2010, the Malaysian Producers Association said that gay characters would only be tolerated in film if they either repent or die, reports Variety.

Some chance remains that Beauty and the Beast will yet screen in Malaysia. The country’s Film Appeals Committee, which has the power to reverse the censorship board’s ruling, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to screen the film.