'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Same-Sex Kiss Cut in Middle East

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - publicity Still - H 2019
Lucasfilm Ltd. Disney

Audiences have reported that the scene was removed from screenings in Dubai.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may include the franchise's first same-sex kiss, but it seems this piece of galactic history hasn't made it to the Middle East. 

According to several people speaking to The Hollywood Reporter who have seen the latest Star Wars at cinemas in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where it opened on Thursday, the scene featuring the kiss had been removed from their screening. THR has reached out to Disney representatives and the regional distributor of Disney titles.

Given that the United Arab Emirates is largely more tolerant than its neighbors when it comes to film censorship and Dubai's status as the regional hub for the entertainment industry, it is thought that this cut will be replicated across the Middle East. 

The cutting of The Rise of Skywalker isn't the first time that local censors have made edits to movies to suit the strict sensitivities of the Middle East, where homosexuality is — officially — illegal in most countries and almost never portrayed onscreen (titles such as Carol, Freeheld and Brokeback Mountain faced an outright ban). And it's not the first time it's happened to a Disney title. 

According to reports, around 40 seconds, including a kiss between Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o, were cut from Black Panther, which in 2018 became the first film to screen theatrically in Saudi Arabia following the lifting of a 35-year ban.

Perhaps most notoriously, some 45 minutes – almost a quarter of the film – was removed from The Wolf of Wall Street, with many saying that the cuts made the film practically unwatchable. 

While violence largely passes Middle East censors, the majority of cuts are related to scenes containing profanity and references to sex, drugs and religion. It is currently the "Year of Tolerance" in the United Arab Emirates. 

While the same-sex kiss scene has been cut in the Middle East, Chinese censors left it in the movie.