Update, March 7, 6:00 a.m.: The Guardian reports that, after review, Russia has given Beauty and the Beast a rating of 16+, which means that children under the age of 16 will not be allowed to watch it in a theater. The decision comes after MP Vitaly Milonov urged the Russian Ministry of Culture to ban the Disney film on the grounds that it violated the country's laws against spreading "gay propaganda" among minors.
This article was originally published on March 6, 2017.
A Russian lawmaker is the latest person to become outraged over the news that LeFou, the sidekick to the villainous Gaston played by Josh Gad in Disney's new live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, will be portrayed as a gay man. CNN reports that, according to state-run news agency Ria Novsti, Vitaly Milonov of the United Russia Party has called on Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky to ban the film, which opens in Russian cinemas on March 16. (That's a day before the film is released in the U.S., which means that maybe we're the ones who should be writing angry letters.)
In his letter to Medinsky, Milonov decries the film's LeFou storyline — which has been described as amounting to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it dance with another man — as "propaganda for homosexuality" and "blatant, shameless propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relationships." You can only imagine what he might make of, say, golden showers.
Russia is conservative when it comes to homosexuality, which was banned until 1993 and listed as a psychiatric disorder until 1999. In 2013 the country passed legislation which makes it illegal to spread "gay propaganda" among minors, a policy of which Milonov has been a vocal supporter.
No declaration of an official Russian boycott of the film has been announced.
It's not just Russia that has taken issue with Beauty and the Beast. Last week the owners of an Alabama drive-in movie theater announced on Facebook that they would not be showing the film, which also stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, on account of LeFou's sexuality.
"If I can't sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it," they explained.
Gad, meanwhile, has said that he is "proud" of the character's development, and noted that any references to his sexuality are "subtle."