MOSCOW, March 7, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Russian government has opted to give a 16+ rating to Disney's new Beauty and the Beast remake amid calls for a ban.
The film, slated for release in the U.S. on March 17 and Russia on March 16, has faced criticism and boycott calls after director Bill Condon revealed it would be Disney's first children's film to carry a homosexual subplot.
Russia's Culture Ministry announced Monday it would not ban the film, but would block it from reaching its intended audience of children.
Vyacheslav Telnov, director of the Culture Ministry’s cinema department, told Russian entertainment site KinoPoisk.ru, “We will issue the film distribution license without any problems. The minimum age is 16+.”
Russian MP Vitaly Milonov, a member of the ruling party, urged Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky last week to ban the film. Milonov called it “a blatant, shameless propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relationships.”
“I’m convinced that the main task of the state regarding children is to protect childhood and youth from the filthiness of the world, to preserve children’s purity, to block our children off from harmful and dangerous phenomena,” Milonov said, according to Britain's The Guardian. “And in this case, our shared task is to not allow the release of this musical on the screen under any guise.”
The film’s director ignited the controversy last week by disclosing in an interview that the Le Fou character would exhibit same-sex attraction toward the character of Gaston.
“Le Fou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Bill Condon had said. He then mentioned a payoff in the end that he didn’t want to give away, “But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Condon also praised actor Josh Gad’s embodiment of Le Fou’s same-sex attraction, saying Gad “makes something really subtle and delicious out of it.”
During the initial furor over the announcement, Gad tweeted, “Beyond proud of this.”
Russian law banned homosexuality until 1993. The country removed homosexuality from a list of psychiatric disorders in 1999. The 2013 law banning gay propaganda with minors angered LGBT activists worldwide.
Amid the backlash, a drive-in theater in Alabama has said it will not screen the Beauty and the Beast remake.
LifeSiteNews’ petition to Disney regarding the homosexual representation of LeFou in its Beauty and the Beast remake has gotten more than 100,000 signatures in the few days since its launching.
Lisa Bourne contributed to this report.