United Arab Emirates Bans Disney Film Over Same-Sex Kiss

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Mary Rooke Staff Writer
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced Monday that the latest film in the Toy Story universe will not play in theaters because it features characters in a same-sex relationship.

Walt Disney-Pixar’s animated feature film “Lightyear” was set to make its debut in the country Thursday but was denied a license that would allow it to open in theaters due to a same-sex kissing scene, reported Reuters.

UAE’s Ministry of Youth and Culture’s media regulatory office said on Twitter that “Lightyear” violated the country’s national media content standards and would not be “licensed to public screening in all cinemas in the UAE,” the outlet reported. (RELATED: Disney Funds An Organization That Sexualizes Children Beginning In Kindergarten)

“The office confirms that all films screened in cinemas across the country are subject to follow-up and evaluation before the date of screening to the public, to ensure the safety of the circulated content according to the appropriate age classification,” UAE’s Ministry of Youth and Culture tweeted, reported The Associated Press.

Despite the UAE relaxing some social laws like living together before marriage, allowing civil marriages and drinking alcohol without a license, it is still illegal to be in a same-sex relationship.

People participating in same-sex conduct face 10-years in prison in Dubai and 14-years in Abu Dhabi. LGBTQ individuals also face the death penalty in some parts of the Muslim-led country still actively practicing Shariah law, reported the AP.

“Under interpretations of sharia, the punishment could include the death penalty. Although the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General are not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions for such activities, they remain illegal,” the U.S. State Department stated. “Cross-dressing is also a punishable offense and there have been reports that the government took action against cross-dressing individuals.”

The film faced opposition from within the UAE as residents took to social media to complain about the film’s inclusion of a scene where Uzo Aduba’s character, “Alisha Hawthorne,” is shown kissing another female character, according to Reuters.

The Disney brand is under pressure from employees to increase LGBTQ narratives and characters in its films, including bringing back the originally scrapped same-sex kissing in “Lightyear.”

Pixar Animation Studios employees wrote a critical letter in March alleged the “family-friendly” company actively censors “overtly gay” themes in its content and demanded the company restore the kiss between the two female characters.