Disney film Lightyear banned in 14 countries for same-sex kiss

Disney has refused to release a second version of the film without the same-sex kiss.

A still from the new Disney film 'Lightyear', with title character staring intensely at the camera in shadows
Image: Twitter @CultureCrave

“We’re not going to cut out anything, especially something as important as the loving and inspirational relationship that shows Buzz what he’s missing by the choices that he’s making,” said the film’s producer, Galyn Susman.

The prequel of the beloved blockbusting Toy Story film series which explores the backstory of the character Buzz Lightyear has been banned in certain countries for LGBTQ+ content.

In Lightyear, the main character (voiced by Chris Evans) has a best friend called Alisha Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba), who is queer. Hawthorne is married, and a scene includes a kiss between her and her wife. This same-sex kiss has been putting Disney in the headlines over the past few months and once again is a source of news after the film was banned in over 14 countries.

According to Reuters, at least 14 countries throughout the Middle East and Asia will not screen Lightyear in their cinemas due to the LGBTQ+ related scenes. Many countries that banned the movie are those where homosexual conduct is considered illegal.

Additionally, it is still unclear whether Lightyear will screen in China. Their authorities requested a second version without same-sex kissing, which Disney refuses to provide. The film producer, Galyn Susman, stated in an interview during the premiere red-carpet: “We’re not going to cut out anything, especially something as important as the loving and inspirational relationship that shows Buzz what he’s missing by the choices that he’s making, so that’s not getting cut.”

Not having the film available for a Chinese audience might be a source of concern for Disney, considering that China is their largest market in the world.

As a result of Disney refusing to provide a second version of the film, Singapore announced that the film would receive an NC16 rating. This means that Lightyear is the first animated film catered for children with a higher than expected rating due to its LGBTQ+ content. The decision was made after Disney decided not to provide an edited version of the film, which would have meant they could screen the edited version to a younger audience, and the unedited version for the older audience.

Chairman of the Film Consultative Panel committee, Cheryl Ng, claimed, “While it is an excellent animated film set in the US context, Singapore is a diverse society where we have multiple sensibilities and viewpoints. This being a children’s cartoon, a significant number of (the panel’s) members felt that the overt depiction of same-gender marriage would warrant a higher rating.”

Lightyear was already in the spotlight earlier this year after Disney cut the same-sex kiss from the film, making Pixar’s LGBTQ+ employees issue a document claiming that the company was trying to censor queer storylines. Disney received backlash from the public, ultimately making them decide to put the kiss back into the film.

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