‘Beauty and the Beast’: Russia Bars Children Under 16 From Seeing Film Over Gay Character

Children in Russia will be barred from watching Disney’s live-action movie “Beauty and the Beast” due to its inclusion of a gay character. Russia’s culture minister Vladimir Medinsky has imposed a 16+ rating on the film after it was alleged that the film contravened the country’s law prohibiting “gay propaganda” aimed at minors. The rating is now prominently displayed on Disney’s Russian website.

In Bill Condon’s film, LeFou (Josh Gad) has a crush on Gaston (Luke Evans). Condon told Attitude magazine that LeFou’s role is groundbreaking.

“It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it,” he said. “And that’s what has its pay-off at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”

Gad spoke to Variety about being Disney’s first openly gay character during film’s L.A. premiere. “As subtle as it is, I do think it’s going to be effective and I do think it’s important,” he said.

Vitaly Milonov, a lawmaker with the governing United Russia party, had urged Medinsky to view the movie before its March 16 release to check if it complied with the law, and to ban it if he found “elements of propaganda of homosexuality,” the BBC reported Saturday.

Gad’s character has sparked controversy in the U.S. as well. A movie theater in Alabama announced last week that it would not screen “Beauty and the Beast” because of the inclusion of a gay character. “If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me, then we have no business showing it,” a statement on the theater’s Facebook page read.

WATCH: Emma Watson and the cast of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ bring the classic songs to life

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