The Russian government has warned Disney against distributing a film that it says “denies family values and promotes non-traditional sexual relationships to children”, reports NBC News.
The short film Out was released in Russia on Disney Plus on May 22, 2020. The film follows Greg as he decides to come out to his parents. The film was produced by Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, and although it isn’t the first instance of a gay main character for Disney, it is the first animated film to feature an LGBTQIA+ main character and storyline.
Although same-sex relationships are ostensibly legal in Russia, a 2013 law bans the dissemination of “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations among young Russians”. According to NBC News, Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor expressed concern in a letter to The Walt Disney Company about the film. Under the laws of the current Russian legislation, sharing any information regarding LGBTQIA+ lives or issues can result in heavy fines or jail sentences.
Russian censorship of LGBTQIA+ media has occurred with other major films such as Rocketman, the biopic about Elton John’s life, reports BBC News. A Russian film distributor made the decision to cut scenes from the 2019 film to comply with the country’s laws on propaganda. Sir Elton John took to Twitter at the time labelling the decision as censorship. He said in his statement, “denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.”
More recently, the film Supernova had scenes cut for release Russian cinemas. Supernova stars Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth and tells the story of a longtime couple as they travel through the countryside after Tucci’s character has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. Although the film’s thematic focus is not only on LGBTQIA+ issues, Russian film distributors chose to cut the scenes in the movie that featured intimate same-sex scenes between the main characters and also cut a dramatic monologue from the film, reports The Advocate.