MP Vitaly Milonov says the new Disney movie is a "blatant, shameless propaganda of sin"
An ultra-conservative Russian MP, Vitaly Milonov, is urging officials to ban the new Disney musical Beauty and the Beast for possible breaches of a law against "gay propaganda."
Milonov called upon Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky to check the film for 'homosexual propaganda' in a letter that was seen and reported by state news agency RIA Novosti.
He urged the Culture Minister to hold a preview screening of the movie to ensure that it complied with the law and to "take measures to totally ban the showing of this film" if the Minister found "elements of propaganda of homosexuality."
“In this situation, society cannot look on silently at what movie distributors are offering under the guise of a children’s tale – the blatant, shameless, unscrupulous propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relations,” Milonov said.
Beauty and the Beast Director Bill Condon has said ahead of its release that the movie features Disney's very first "exclusively gay moment", consisting of a sub-plot involving side-kick Le Fou's feelings towards his friend Gaston. Critics however, have called the moment underwhelming.
A driving force
Vitaly Milonov has been a driving force behind Russia's anti-gay laws. As a lawmaker with leading United Russia party, he was among the chief instigators of Russia's law banning "gay propaganda," signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2013.
The law, which prompted outrage from human rights organisations around the world, describes homosexuality as "non-traditional sexual relations," and bans the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it.
In response to the letter, Culture Minister Medinsky has said to the BBC that :
"As soon as we get a copy of the film with relevant paperwork for distribution, we will consider it according to the law."
Another MP, Alexander Sholokhov who is deputy chair of the culture committee, has also announced that he is in favour of banning the movie if it is found to be in violation of the law.
The Russian comments come soon after an Alabama drive-in theatre announced on its Facebook page that it would not be showing the movie because of its "gay content", adding that "we will not compromise on what the Bible teaches."
Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Kevin Kline and Stanley Tucc is rated as PG, and is due for release in Russia on March 16th.