Gay scenes from the Disney movie "Beauty & The Beast", a contentious issue in Hong Kong, China. Press review by Ludivine Lombardi

Disney movie "Beauty and the beast", which was released in March 2017, caused controversy in many Asian countries because of "gay scenes". Those scenes in question feature a character, named LeFou, who expresses his affection for his boss, and a dance at ball between LeFou and another man, that lasts all but 30 seconds. The director, Bill Condon, said that it was the first exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.

Character named LeFou is gay in the movie version

Anti-gay groups in Hong Kong are reacting badly

Those "gay moments" created issues, especially in Malaysia and Singapore. In fact, both countries have asked Disney to censor those scenes that "promote homosexuality", but the famous studio refused. As a result, the movie really got criticized by right activists, who said that "they see this as an attempt to influence young children and socialise them at an early age into thinking that the homosexual lifestyle is normal". Those anti-gay groups called for people to boycott the movie since it's "not suitable for children".

China seems to be following in the footstep of neighbors countries, or more precisely, Hong Kong. Indeed, anti-gay groups have requested the OFNAA (Office for Film Newspaper and Article Administration) to censor the movie or rate it as Category III (18 years old or above).

The International Christian Quality Music Secondary and Primary School in Diamond Hill sent a notice to parents to tell them that they have been “teaching children with the truth of the Bible to let them understand God’s original will in creating mankind. God disapproves of homosexuality. Therefore we urge parents not to bring children or allow them to watch the film". They added that they hoped that God would “protect children’s hearts and lead them to walk on the right track.”

Notice to parents from The International Christian Quality Music Secondary and Primary School

Choi Chi-sum, chief of a prominent Hong Kong anti-gay group, disagrees

Choi Chi-sum, outspoken far right evangelical and the chief executive of The Society for Truth and Light completely disagree with those anti-gay group, saying they are "overreacting".

He said that he watched the movie because he wanted to make his own opinion, instead of listening to rumors. He stated that it was a really good movie and he would recommend children to watch it.

He went on saying that "the so-called gay scene is so subtle, it’s merely an interpretation and bragging by some of the film’s crew. I believe most parents, unless they have a bias, would not think the said scene is beautifying homosexuality." He added “Maybe gays should protest as well; the two alleged homosexuals are loathsome villains in the film.”

He said that he worked for the OFNAA for many years and would not see any problem in rating the movie suitable for all. "I don’t want Hong Kong’s film censorship standards to be same as Singapore or some strict Muslim countries."

However, he still made it clear that he would oppose Disney if they started to gradually promote "how good homosexuals are" in the future.

The LGBT community in China

To understand better the issue at hands, it's fundamental to know the point of view of China on homosexuality.

In the history of China, homosexuality was never directly criminalized, contrary to Singapore. In 2001, the Chinese Society of Psychiatry commissioned a working group to study the psychology of gays and lesbians, and research findings ultimately led to the removal of homosexuality and bisexuality from the official list of mental disorders in the Chinese Classification of Medical Disorders.

However, culturally, it's frowned upon. Indeed, China's first and foremost value is family. A traditional family involves a heterosexual marriage. Though, the society is changing due to the younger generations, who have more freedom to live their personal lives as they wish.

Religions are, of course, against homosexuality, which is a huge factor in the acceptation of LGBT rights.

Occidental countries have been shocked by the reactions of Asian countries, but looking into the culture and history of China, it's easily understandable why they would react so strongly to "gay scenes" in a Disney movie.

However, the younger generations are changing. It's important to note that, while the movie was criticized by right activists and various anti-gay groups, it was also defended and highly anticipated by a lot of people.

It was a hit, especially with young girls, but the success of the movie was no surprise due to the popularity of its star. Indeed, Emma Watson, who played Belle in the movie, is "a household name in China", according to Los Angeles Times.

Even with the bad press, and the call for boycott, it was still a huge success, which clearly proves that the younger generations are slowly becoming more and more accepting toward homosexuality, even in countries as conservative and traditional as China.

Sources :

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2079145/beauty-and-beast-gay-scene-backlash-singapore-malaysia-and-hong -- https://www.hongkongfp.com/2017/03/17/beautiful-beastly-hong-kongs-anti-gay-campaigners-loggerheads-disneys-gay-moment/ --http://www.cn.undp.org/content/china/en/home/library/democratic_governance/being-lgbt-in-asia-china-country-report/ -- http://www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-china-box-office-20170321-story.html

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