Toy Story fans who live in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates won’t be able to see the latest entry of the franchise in theaters because Lightyear has been banned from theatrical release in those countries.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, due to the movie’s “violation of the country’s media content standards,” the UAE Media Regulatory Office has denied the Disney/Pixar animated prequel a license for public screening. The film, which is set to be released on June 17, is also banned in Saudi Arabia.
Lightyear is the story of the hero who inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy we first met in Andy’s room back in 1995. The film features a same-gender kiss between Buzz’s pal, Alisha Hawthorne, (voiced by Uzo Aduba) and her partner. The problems stem from these countries’ anti-LGBTQ+ laws, which make homosexuality illegal.
Per Variety, Disney originally cut the scene. However, following a joint statement from LGBTQ+ employees and allies at Pixar accusing Disney of censoring LGBTQ+ representation in its movies, the scene was put back in the film. The statement reads in part: “Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.”
Earlier this year, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness was banned for introducing America Chavez, who is gay. Before that, West Side Story was banned because of the transgender character Anybodys, portrayed by nonbinary actor Iris Menas. And of course, Eternals wasn’t given a theatrical release, as it showed a beautiful, gay family between superhero Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), his husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman) and their son, Jack.
Just as a reminder, Lightyear is part of the Toy Story universe. There is nothing inappropriate or untoward in this movie. The scene these regulators are so upset about is seconds long. There’s just no reason for this level of censorship.
For the rest of the world who knows love is love, Lightyear launches onto the big screen on June 17.