Due to the inclusion of a same sex kiss in Pixar’s new Toy Story spinoff Lightyear, the film has been banned in over a dozen Middle Eastern and Asian countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Kuwait. And, according to Reuters, a Chinese release seems unlikely.
What’s the background here? In the scene, new character Alisha, a fellow space ranger to Buzz, shares a kiss with her partner. Originally, Disney cut the scene before employees at Pixar published an open letter accusing the company of demanding cuts and censorship of any “overtly gay” affection in its kids and family films. After the letter went public, the scene was quickly restored.
Were the bans expected? According to a report by Variety, Disney never allowed Saudi censors access to the film, knowing it would not be approved for release in that country. Initially though, it was approved for release in the U.A.E. where censors have begun lightening their criteria slightly in recent years. However, that license to exhibit the film in the U.A.E. was revoked after a social media uproar in the region which accused the film and the studio of insulting Muslims and Islam by refusing to remove the scene. Malaysia has been trending in the oposite directions, increasing censorship of films seeking theatrical releases.