On June 17, Disney is set to release its newest film from Pixar Animation Studios, Lightyear. The film stars Chris Evans as the iconic Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear, as he helps his team escape an alien planet that they have been stranded on. The film is expected to be incredibly popular among Toy Story fans, who are excited to see some of their favorite characters receive their very own origin stories. Evans has been heavily promoting the film, and it is expected to be a big hit, except in one country.
Less than one week before the film’s premiere, the government of Saudi Arabia announced that the film will be banned in the country. Lightyear features a same-sex kiss, and that is why the film has been banned. While there is no explicit government law against it, Saudi Arabia practices Sharia law, and homosexuality is explicitly banned and those found guilty of it can be put to death.
The news was reported by The Hollywood Reporter, which stated:
Sources tell THR the decision is linked to the inclusion of a same-gender kiss in Pixar’s Toy Story prequel spinoff. The scene, involving the female character Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) and her partner, was originally cut from the film but reinstated following the uproar surrounding a statement from Pixar employees claiming that Disney had been censoring “overtly gay affection” and Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The UAE’s Media Regulatory Office announced June 13 that the movie — due for release June 16 — was not licensed for public screening due to its “violation of the country’s media content standards.”
Pixar’s Lightyear is not the first film that has been banned in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, the country also banned the newest Marvel film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness due to one of the characters — America Chavez — having two mothers. The scenes were brief, but the film did show a couple of scenes with the same-sex couple.
Eternals — another Marvel film released in November 2021 — was banned in most of the Middle East because it showed a same-gender couple. The film featured Marvel’s first gay superhero. Disney’s remake of West Side Story was also banned because it featured a non-binary character. Being transgender or non-binary is also banned in Saudi Arabia.