“Buzz Lightyear” and his kiss between two women are banned in a dozen countries

Pixar Studios’ latest animated film, Buzz Lightyear, which features a fleeting kissing scene between two cohabiting women, has been denied release in fourteen countries and territories in the Middle East and Asia, we learned Tuesday from a source with access to the File.

According to this source, the list of those countries that are predominantly Muslim are as follows: Malaysia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Territories, Syria, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates Emirates.

Buzz Lightyear chronicles the birth of the intrepid astronaut made famous by the Toy Story saga. In the film, Buzz and his fellow spacewalkers, including his leader and best friend Alisha Hawthorne, end up on a hostile planet.

At one point in the film, Alisha’s character can be seen briefly kissing her wife, a scene originally edited by Disney subsidiary Pixar Studios.

But employees at Pixar and Disney rose up and criticized the stance of the world’s leading entertainment company, which has been accused of failing to commit to defending LGBTQ+ people’s rights.

The controversy was further fueled after Florida passed a controversial law banning teaching about sexual orientation in public schools. Bob Chapek, the CEO of the company, which employs more than 75,000 people at its Disney World theme park in Orlando, in the southeastern United States, was furious after saying he was reluctant to oppose the law.

Eventually, under pressure, Bob Chapek publicly denounced the law.

According to specialized Hollywood media, the kissing scene was reinserted into “Buzz Lightyear” after this controversy. It now appears in all versions of the film, regardless of the country of destination.

The film’s producer, Galyn Susman, addressed the issue in early April when she presented the film to the press.

“Being able to get that kiss back was important to us. It’s a touching moment” with great plot significance because it makes Buzz realize that unlike his boyfriend, he doesn’t need to be loved or a child, she explained.

But the producer had insisted that “we always had the lesbian couple” formed by Alisha and her wife, whom they had “always been part of the film” despite the initial cut.

The Media Regulatory Office of the United Arab Emirates on Monday announced the ban on the animated film “due to a violation of the country’s media content standards”.

Authorities didn’t say how “Buzz Lightyear” violated those standards or if the kissing scene between two women was specifically at fault.

Posters for the film were already plastered in the streets of the Emirate of Dubai, which belongs to the Emirates.

The wealthy Gulf state has a tolerance ministry. It is relatively liberal compared to its neighbors, but remains subject to many restrictions on political and social issues.

Censorship is a widespread practice in the Arab world, particularly in the very conservative Gulf region. Films with scenes that are considered immoral are often shortened or even banned altogether.

“Buzz Lightyear” was also not supposed to be shown in Indonesia or Malaysia, two Southeast Asian countries with extremely Muslim-majority populations.

“We suggested that the film’s owners think about their audience in Indonesia, where a kiss between LGBT people is still considered sensitive,” Rommy Fibri Hardiyanto, head of the censorship commission, told AFP from the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The film is not strictly banned in Indonesia, but authorities say they are still awaiting the “final version” requested by Disney, particularly with the subtitles. “The ball is theirs,” said Rommy Fibri Hardiyanto.

In Malaysia, the censorship board asked Disney to cut two scenes “that are not suitable for children,” an Interior Ministry official, who asked not to be identified, told AFP.

The request was made last week and Disney has yet to respond to Malaysian authorities, the official added, who did not specify which two scenes were involved.

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