Malaysia bans Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Bruno'

Gay themes too much for censors in Muslim country

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia has banned U.S. boxoffice hit "Bruno" by Sacha Baron Cohen because it highlights gay life and has gay sex scenes, an official said Tuesday.

"Bruno" -- following Baron Cohen's hit "Borat" -- is centered on the adventures of a flamboyant gay fashion journalist from Austria.

An official from Malaysia's Film Censorship Board said the movie was considered unacceptable because of its story line, offensive language, jokes and racy nature. She declined to be named, citing protocol.

"It's banned because the story is based on gay life. ... There are a lot of sex scenes," she said. "It's contrary to our culture."

Gay sex, or "carnal intercourse against the order of nature," is punishable by up to 20 years in jail and whipping in Malaysia. Sex toys, politically incorrect comments and jokes about religion also irked the censors, she said.

She said censors vetted the movie last month, and the distributor was notified.

Ukraine has also banned the film, and some Austrian officials have spoken out against it, but have not taken action.

Baron Cohen's previous movie, "Borat," made fun of the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan and the United States and was banned in Kazakhstan and Russia.

Malaysia also decided in early September to ban another American hit, the horror film "Halloween II," because of its gory scenes and excessive violence, the official said. The distributor was informed and can appeal the decision.

A Muslim-majority nation of 28 million people, Malaysia has strict public morality rules, including those applying to entertainment. U.S. R&B star Beyonce, who is scheduled to perform here on Oct. 25, has promised to wear conservative attire for the show.