Russia Won't Ban 'Beauty and the Beast' Over Gay Character

Courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Josh Gad (left) and Luke Evans in 'Beauty and the Beast'

But viewers under 16 won't be admitted to screenings of the live-action Disney film.

Beauty and the Beast won't be banned in Russia, the country's culture ministry announced Monday. However, the movie was given a 16+ rating, meaning that only viewers over 16 years old will be admitted to screenings.

"We are issuing an exhibition license to the movie without any problems," Vyacheslav Tyelnov, head of the culture ministry's film department, was quoted as saying by "The age restriction will be 16+."

Josh Gad's character in the film, LeFou, was recently revealed to be gay.

To be exhibited in Russia, a movie has to be issued an exhibition license, which also states age restrictions, if any.

Over the weekend, hard-line Russian legislator Vitaly Milonov called on culture minister Vladimir Medinsky to scrutinize Beauty and the Beast to determine whether it is in line with the Russian law prohibiting "gay propaganda against minors."

Several years ago, Milonov penned the law, which many observers considered to be a crackdown on the local gay community.

Milonov has not yet reacted to the culture ministry's decision. However, the presence of a gay character in the movie could give him and other conservative politicians in Russia reasons to question the issuing of the exhibition license as, under the law "against gay propaganda," any content involving gay characters can only be exhibited to people over 18 years of age.

In any case, even the 16+ age restriction may have a negative impact on the movie's box office, as it will prevent a large part of Disney live-action movies' traditional viewers from seeing it.