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A 2013 law prohibits the distribution of LGBTQ media.
As the film’s release date draws closer, Disney’s upcoming Beauty and the Beast could be barred from the country due to its depiction of a gay character.
Vitaly Milonov, a lawmaker for Russia’s State Duma, believes Beauty and the Beast is “a blatant, shameless propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relationships” carried out through the depiction “of children’s fairy tales.” Milonov, who is a deeply religious Orthodox Christian and conservative politician, is upset with the movie’s depiction of Le Fou’s sexual attraction to Gaston. He believes the depiction of gay relationships could prove “harmful” to children.
Thanks to a 2013 law passed by the Russian government, Milonov and other Russian politicians would be able to ban the movie from cinemas across the country if the state government believes the film is too LGBTQ-inclusive. The law bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” for minors. Passing 436-0, the law outlaws the distribution of LGBTQ media and fines organizations and individuals caught spreading so-called “propaganda” among minors. Simply depicting LGBTQ relationships as equivalent to straight relationships can lead to scrutiny from the government.
BBC reports Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky will review the film and decide if the Russian government will allow the film to be screened across the nation. “As soon as we get a copy of the film with relevant paperwork for distribution, we will consider it according to the law,” he said. But Milonov is insistent.
“I’m convinced that the main task of the state regarding children is the protection of childhood and youth from the dirt of the world, preserving children’s purity, guard our children from the harmful and dangerous phenomena,” Milonov said, according to Mashable. “And in this case, our shared task is to not allow the release of this musical on the screen under any guise.”
If the national government allows the movie to be screened, Beauty and the Beast will debut on March 16 across Russian theaters. The film has been barred from one theater in the U.S. because of LaFou’s character.
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.