‘Lightyear’ has already been banned in 14 countries— before its official release
Disney’s inclusion of a same-sex kiss in the movie led over a dozen countries to prohibit the screening of “Lightyear”
Disney and Pixar’s newest film, “Lightyear,’’ will hit theaters this week, but some countries have opted to not show — or to outright ban — the movie. The film’s portrayal of an LGBTQ character is fueling the controversy. As of Tuesday, 14 countries said they will not allow the film to be played likely because of that character’s on-screen kiss.
It was announced via Twitter Monday that “Lightyear” is “not licensed for public screening in all cinemas in the (United Arab Emirates) due to its violation of the country’s media content standards.” While the post did not cite the specific reason for prohibiting the movie, same-sex relationships are a criminal offense in the UAE, as well as many adjacent, predominantly Islamic countries.
Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kuwait and Egypt also won’t show the movie, though their representatives have not publicly stated the reasoning behind the bans.
Disney has yet to make an official statement on countries in the Middle East and Asia banning “Lightyear.”
China is unlikely to screen the film either, Reuters reports. The country censors nearly all homosexuality in film and television, and has banned Disney films in the past. All four Marvel films released in 2021 were banned by the country, as well as this year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” according to Business Insider.
Chinese authorities requested Disney cut the same-sex kiss scene from the movie, but the company refused. That decision followed Disney’s most recent statement against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, alternatively known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Disney employees shared their disagreement with the bill when it was first announced, but company leadership held back from lobbying against it. An official statement given to “Good Morning America” in March read, “The biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce.”
Following an annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, Disney CEO Bob Chapek acknowledged the company’s delayed response. Chapek has since expressed his concerns with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and coordinated with the Human Rights Campaign. The company’s recent efforts, however, have some activists raising their eyebrows.
From Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign: “While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida — including hardworking families employed by Disney — today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step.”
Amid the related controversy over “Lightyear,” members of the cast have spoken publicly about the film’s censorship in other countries.
Chris Evans — who plays a young Buzz Lightyear — stated at the film’s world premiere: “It’s frustrating. … It feels good to be a part of something that is making social progress, but it’s with this ribbon of bittersweet frustration that, at the same time, there are still places that have not caught up.”
Keke Palmer, the voice of Izzy Hawthorne, said she remains hopeful that the world can change.
“We’re going to push through,” Palmer said. “I have a lot of faith. I think storytelling and filmmaking sometimes is not before its time, but it’s on the brink.”