Russia considers banning ‘Beauty and the Beast’ over gay ‘propaganda’

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MOSCOW — A Russian lawmaker has urged that country’s government to ban Disney’s new “Beauty and the Beast” remake after labeling it “a blatant, shameless propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relationships.”

The complaint was detailed in a letter sent by Vitaly Milonov to the Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and reported by state-run news agency Ria Novsti.

It says the movie should not be shown in Russia if the ministry found “elements of propaganda of homosexuality.”

The Ministry of Culture has not yet issued a ruling on the film, which stars Emma Watson and is scheduled to open in Russia on March 16.

The movie is rated PG and is a live-action remake of the 1991 animated hit. Its director, Bill Condon, has said the character of LeFou, fawning sidekick to the villainous Gaston, has an “exclusively gay moment” in the film.

At the end of the film, there’s a huge celebratory dance — the kind where everyone’s in a big circle and regularly changes partners. On one of these changes, LeFou finds himself paired with another man.

They freeze, surprised, in their “embrace.” The audience laughs and then the camera cuts away. That’s it — the moment is over in less than a second.

Russia’s anti-gay climate

Russia’s government passed legislation in 2013 prohibiting the spreading of “gay propaganda” among minors.

The law, which described homosexuality as “nontraditional sexual relations,” bars the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it.

The move drew fierce criticism from the international gay community and human rights groups across the world.

Laws that banned homosexuality in Russia were revoked in 1993 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But it was not until 1999 that homosexuality in Russia was dropped from a list of psychiatric disorders.

Milonov has been the driving force behind Russia’s anti-gay laws.

As a lawmaker with the ruling United Russia party, he ensured the legislation was first passed in his home city of St. Petersburg before it was adopted across the country.

In the past, he has called lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people “sick” and “crazy.”

Milonov also was a supporter of a new Russian law that decriminalizes some forms of domestic violence.