Buzz Lightyear film banned in UAE over same-sex kiss

Disney and Pixar’s latest animated movie Lightyear has been banned from cinemas in the United Arab Emirates, officials said on Monday and cited it.

The film contains a same-sex kiss, but the UAE’s Media Regulatory Office did not give a specific reason for its decision.

The department just said the film was banned for its “violation of the country’s media content standards”.

The movie centres on the character Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story franchise.

The UAE’s Media Regulatory Office posted a tweet featuring an image of Buzz, crossed out with a red line.

Media Regulatory Office Executive Director Rashid Khalfan Al Nuaimi later told Reuters the film was banned because of the inclusion of “homosexual” characters in several scenes.

It wrote on Twitter, “The Media Regulatory Office announced that the animated film Lightyear, which is scheduled for release on 16th June, is not licensed for public screening in all cinemas in the UAE, due to its violation of the country’s media content standards”.

A Disney representative did not immediately respond to emailed Reuters questions on the ban, which drew praise from some on social media in the country.

Like many other Middle East and Muslim nations, same-sex relationships are criminalised in the UAE, a Gulf country of about 10 million people where most of the population are foreigners.

Lightyear, which had been advertised by cinemas in the UAE for release on 16 June, is centredaround the Buzz Lightyear action figure character from the popular Toy Story franchise.

The film features Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz and UzoAduba as Alisha Hawthorne. Aduba’s character is in a relationship with another woman, whom she kisses in the film.

Some social media users said depicting same-sex relationships was against the religion and culture of the UAE while others said children should not be exposed to such imagery.

The Lightyear ban comes just six months after the UAE said it would stop censoring cinematic releases and announced a 21-plus age rating for films it classifies for older audiences.
The United Arab Emirates, a Sunni Muslim-ruled country, criminalises consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults.

Last year, Pixar’s Onward was reported to have been banned by several Middle Eastern countries because of a reference to lesbian parents.

In April, Saudi Arabia requested cuts to “LGBTQ references” in Disney’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which was ultimately not screened in the country.

Other films featuring gay storylines to have fallen foul of censorship around the world include Elton John biopic Rocketman. It was banned outright in Samoa and sex scenes from the hit 2019 movie were cut by a Russian distributor.

Ahead of Monday’s decision, an Arabic hashtag calling for the film not to be shown in the UAE was trending on Twitter and amongst users of

Films featuring same-sex relationships have in the past been banned by regulators in Muslim-majority nations, while others with profanity or illicit drug use are sometimes censored.

The UAE’s media regulatory office in December had announced that international versions of films would be shown in the country.

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Scott Baber
Scott Baber
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Manages incoming enquiries and advertising. Based in London and very sporty. Worked news and sports desks in local paper after graduating.


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