DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates on Monday banned Walt Disney-Pixar’s animated feature film “Lightyear” from screening in cinemas because it features characters in a same-sex relationship.
The film would not be licensed for screening in the country as it violated the nation’s media content standard, the Ministry of Youth and Culture’s media regulatory office wrote on Twitter.
Media Regulatory Office Executive Director Rashid Khalfan Al Nuaimi later told Reuters the film was banned because of the inclusion of “homosexual” characters in several scenes.
A Disney representative did not immediately respond to emailed Reuters questions on the ban, which drew praise from some on social media in the country.
Like many other Middle East and Muslim nations, same-sex relationships are criminalised in the UAE, a Gulf country of about 10 million people where most of the population are foreigners.
“Lightyear”, which had been advertised by cinemas in the UAE for release on June 16, is centred around the Buzz Lightyear action figure character from the popular Toy Story franchise.
The film features Chris Evans as the voice of “Buzz” and Uzo Aduba as “Alisha Hawthorne”. Aduba’s character is in a relationship with another woman, whom she kisses in the film.
Some social media users said depicting same-sex relationships was against the religion and culture of the UAE while others said children should not be exposed to such imagery.
Ahead of Monday’s decision, an Arabic hashtag calling for the film not to be shown in the UAE was trending on Twitter.
Films featuring same-sex relationships have in the past been banned by regulators in Muslim-majority nations, while others with profanity or illicit drug use are sometimes censored.
The UAE’s media regulatory office in December had announced that international versions of films would be shown in the country.