Russian government officials will review Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast, eyeing a possible film ban due to a gay character and subplot.
Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said the film would be screened prior to the March 16 release there and action would be taken if the content breached the country's internationally condemned law prohibiting the spreading of "gay propaganda" among minors, the BBC reported on Saturday.
"As soon as we get a copy of the film with relevant paperwork for distribution, we will consider it according to the law," Medinsky said, according to the BBC.
Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon said in an interview with gay British magazine Attitude that the character LeFou, played by Josh Gad, will explore his sexuality in Beauty in what Attitude calls a "small but significant subplot" during the film. LeFou is the sidekick to the film's main villain Gaston (Luke Evans).
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon said in the interview. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Vitaly Milonov, a member of the State Duma (the equivalent of the House of Commons) from the pro-Putin United Russia party, urged the culture minister to hold the screening and to "take measures to totally ban" Beauty if he found "elements of propaganda of homosexuality," according to the BBC.
His colleague Alexander Sholokhov, the deputy chair of the legislative body's cultural committee, said that if the scenes violated the law, the film should be banned from cinemas.
Disney officials did respond to comment on Saturday.
In an interview at the Los Angeles premiere of Beauty and the Beast on Thursday, Josh Gad told USA TODAY's Carly Mallenbaum that he was "really proud" to play LeFou.
"What was most important to me was taking a character that is wonderful and so iconic, but is defined by cartoon conceits in the (original) movie ... and expanding on that, giving him dimension, making him human," said Gad.