When director Bill Condon mentioned in passing that his upcoming Beauty And The Beast would touch, very briefly, on the sexuality of Josh Gad’s character—Gaston-admiring crony LeFou—he probably wasn’t expecting to unite Russian politicians and Alabama-based theater owners in common homophobic cause. But, as reported by Variety, Russian MPs are now calling for the upcoming Disney film to be potentially banned from the country on the grounds that it might be “gay propaganda.”
That’s per Vitaly Milonov, a Russian member of parliament who’s been a vocal proponent of the country’s laws banning “homosexual propaganda” from being broadcast where children might see it. Milonov has demanded that the Russian government hold a screening of the film before the release (scheduled for March 17 in the U.S.), in order to determine whether the film’s brazen acknowledgement of the existence of gayness might possibly warp young minds.
The frustrating thing about all this—besides the rampant bigotry, that is—is that it’s all over what is, reportedly, an extremely minor part of the film. Vulture has a report from an advance screening of the movie that suggests that the “exclusively gay moment” takes up literally two seconds of screen time, and that the movie’s entire same-sex content can be summed up as “turning a villainous buffoon that was coded as gay in the original film into a morally ambiguous buffoon who is more obviously gay, confides in a teapot, and tries out dancing with a man.” That’s still not nothing, given that Disney TV just recently aired its first sincere same-sex kiss in a cartoon, and the incredible caution the studio usually exhibits when it comes to anything even remotely controversial. But we can’t imagine Condon was intending to open up an international uproar when he let the details of LeFou’s character slip.