Malaysia to ban more LGBT movies
Following the cancellation of ‘Lightyear’ and ‘Thor,’ the government has doubled down on its commitment to ban LGBT content
ACCORDING to a report by Variety, the Malaysian government has confirmed that the recent Marvel movie ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ was blocked from wide release due to references to homosexuality.
A minister said on Wednesday that the Malaysian government is committed to curtailing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) culture in the country.
‘Thor’ joins the latest slate of movies being banned from release in Malaysia. The Pixar animated film ‘Lightyear’ suffered the same fate. Both movies were submitted by distributor Disney for classification and censorship by the Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF).
In both cases, LPF requested cuts to be made which the studio decided not to pursue, effectively resulting in both films not getting a local release.
“Recently there was a film that did not pass censorship, that is the new ‘Thor’ film,” said Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin. “[The movie] touched on LGBT but we see right now there are many films with LGBT elements that slip past the censorship.”
Zahidi said that the government and the religious department (Islamic Affairs Department or Jakim), were committed to preventing the spread of LGBT culture in Malaysia.
The minister blamed foreign elements for the problem and made assertions that LGBT films were becoming more subtle in their methods and asked for public vigilance.
“I am frustrated because the outside world was the one promoting LGBT,” he said during a response in Parliament.
Zahidi said the government was always monitoring films and social media platforms for LGBT content and “would take severe action against individuals found promoting such elements.”
The minister revealed that beyond theatres and broadcast television, his powers are limited and do not extend to streaming services such as Netflix, HBO Max and others that are based outside Malaysia.
That provides Malaysian audiences another avenue to access these movies. ‘Lightyear’ is already available to stream on the Malaysian version of Disney+ Hotstar with an 18+ recommendation.
“We cannot control overseas platforms that are easily reached online – but activities in the country, we have no issues. We have always been stern and committed,” he commented.
“Provisions in the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 do not include censorship of such content which is spelled out under Section 3(3).
“In addition, OTT services like Netflix are not like public broadcast services or private institutions in the country that fall under existing laws involving licensing and censorship in the country,” Zahidi responded in Parliament.
Zahidi proceeded to advise Malaysians to exercise self-restraint, and vigilance from parents, making use of age-control systems contained within streaming platforms to restrict access that contains LGBT content.
The government’s commitment to censor LGBT content places Malaysia at odds with major studios and producers.
Given the progress that the world is making to protect the civil rights and liberties of the LGBT community, the opposite direction Malaysia is moving could mean that future Hollywood blockbusters could be banned from release.
The effects of this are far-reaching as it also places cinema chains like GSC (Golden Screen Cinema) and TGV in a precarious position. The last-minute cancellation of Thor forced these outlets to refund tickets that went on sale early, suffering huge losses.
In an interview with The Star, GSC chief executive officer Koh Lee Mei commented that “the cinema industry really suffered during the pandemic, because we were closed for half of 2020 and 2021. So, this year, now that we are open, content is very important to us.
“We are just starting to recover in May and June. We see movie-goers returning to the big screen to watch their favourite blockbuster movies.”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness collected about RM47 million at the box office, and the cinemas were expecting the latest Thor to make an estimated RM60 million to RM65 million.
“Thor is a big Marvel blockbuster, and a movie that cinemas, as well as moviegoers, have been anticipating for a long time,” Koh said.
“If you compare it with the reception, we got for other MCU movies Dr Strange and Avengers Endgame, we estimate a loss of about four million admissions (if Thor does not show).”
source – The Vibes