Malaysia Clears Release of 'Beauty and the Beast,' With "Gay Moment" Intact

After much local controversy, the film has been cleared for release in the Muslim-majority nation on March 30 with a PG13 rating.

It's a fairytale ending for Disney's Beauty and the Beast in Malaysia. 

According to multiple reports emerging from the country on Tuesday, the film has been cleared for local release on March 30. Beauty has been given a PG13 rating, but it will screen in its entirety, without cuts. 

Leading local movie theater chains Golden Screens Cinemas and TGV Cinemas both tweeted the news. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Disney for comment.

Beauty opened to a huge $350 million at the worldwide box office over the weekend. But it was conspicuously absent on movie screens in Malaysia.

Last Thursday, it emerged that Malaysia's censorship board — known as the LPF — had demanded that material be cut from the film, including a brief, three-second "gay moment" first revealed by director Bill Condon earlier this month.

Disney responded by saying the film "has not been and will not be cut for Malaysia." The studio postponed the movie's release by one week, in case the Malaysians decided to reconsider their demands.

Josh Gad's character in the hit film, Gaston's sidekick LeFou, is Disney's first-ever LGBTQ character. Malaysia has strict laws against homosexuality, however, with sex between men being illegal. Gay characters are allowed to be depicted onscreen in the country only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.

In a lengthy interview with the New Sunday Times over the weekend, Malaysia censorship board chairman Abdul Halim suggested that his organization's hand had been forced by Condon's public remarks celebrating the landmark character. 

"Maybe if Condon had not mentioned the ‘gay element,' people wouldn’t be so curious and we could let it go with a potentially minor cut," said Halim. "And this whole thing may not have been an issue." 

He added, "Malaysia does not recognize the LGBT ideology. So we have to be extra cautious in our work. We have our responsibilities to the country, the people and our constitution."

Malaysia's Film Appeals Committee, which has the power to overturn the censorship board's rulings, then scheduled a meeting Tuesday to screen the film.  

There is no official word yet on how the reversal came about. 

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