Ahead of its release, much was made of Pixar’s Onward featuring the first openly gay character in a Disney animated movie. Having been bitten too many times before, though, folks knew to expect this LGBTQ representation to be limited to a brief line. Sure enough, now that the film is out, we know that to be the case. However, it’s still enough to get the movie banned in multiple Middle Eastern markets.
Deadline is reporting that Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have all refused to screen the fantasy family film, which stars Chris Pratt and Tom Holland as a pair of elf brothers, in response to the inclusion of a lesbian character. In contrast, Onward is still being shown in other territories in the region, including Bahrain, Lebanon and Egypt.
The LGBTQ moment in question occurs when Pratt and Holland’s characters, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, are disguised as their mother’s centaur boyfriend, Officer Bronco, and become part of a conversation about parenting with a couple of female police officers. Specter, as voiced by Lena Waithe, comments: “It’s not easy being a new parent – my girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out, okay?”
The Middle Eastern banning of Onward follows on from the movie’s similarly censored arrival in Russia. Though the Eastern European country didn’t outright ban it, the translation did remove all possible references to a gay relationship, replacing the word “girlfriend” with the gender-neutral “partner” and also stopping short of confirming that Specter was female.
Also starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Octavia Spencer and Mel Rodriguez, Onward opens nationwide from today (March 6th) and is due to gross $45-$50 million over its opening weekend – not one of Pixar’s best, but still highly respectable. It’s currently already earned $2 million from Thursday night previews and as with most of the studio’s efforts, critics are loving it. It’s just a shame that some parts of the world are not getting to see it.