In Brief

Why a Russian MP is calling for a ban on Beauty and the Beast

United Russia politician Vitaly Milonov claims Disney's new film will spread gay 'propaganda' among minors

A Russian MP has called for a ban on Disney's new live-action Beauty and the Beast film, saying it will spread gay "propaganda" among young people.

Vitaly Milonov, a member of the governing United Russia party, has urged culture minister Vladimir Medinsky to check if the film, which features Disney's first openly gay character, complies with the law, reports the BBC.

He said: "In this situation, society cannot look on silently at what movie distributors are offering under the guise of a children's tale – the obvious, barefaced, unscrupulous propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relations."

Although homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, distributing information about homosexuality to minors is illegal under legislation that describes gay and bisexual relationships as "non-traditional sexual relations".

Milonov, who once compared homosexuality to bestiality during an interview on BBC Radio 5, was a leading voice in implementing the 2013 law, which led to a rise in homophobic violence.

Medinsky said the ministry will consider the film and its relevant distribution paperwork in light of the legislation.

In an interview with Attitude magazine this month, director Bill Condon announced Beauty and the Beast would feature Disney's first "exclusively gay moment", as the character LeFou (Josh Gad) explores his feelings for his friend Gaston (Luke Evans).

The side plot was described as "a watershed moment for Disney" by the magazine's editor-in-chief Matt McCain.

He said: "By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly gay scene, the studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural – and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it's still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay."

The film, which stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, is due for release in Russia on 16 March.

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