SINGAPORE - The 2017 remake of the Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, was given a PG (Parental Guidance) rating by the authorities here for "mild portrayals of violence" and not for a gay moment in the film.
The scene is reportedly of two male characters in the movie dancing together and looking at each other. The film's director Bill Condon, who is gay, said in an interview with a British magazine that a male character LeFou is "confused" about his sexuality and has an "exclusively gay moment". LeFou, a manservant, develops feelings for the main villain Gaston - a depiction that is said to be a first in Disney's film history.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in response to queries by The Straits Times on whether a gay moment in the film was taken into account when giving the PG rating said: "IMDA's film classification approach gives audiences access to a wider range of media choices while protecting our young from unsuitable content. Central to IMDA's classification framework is the use of age-ratings and advisories to help consumers make informed media choices."
It added that the rating was also the assessment of the Films Consultative Panel, which is a panel comprises volunteers from various professions, ages, races and religions.
The film opens in Singapore theatres on Thursday (March 16).
Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) issued a letter to churches on Tuesday (March 14), urging pastors to "alert" their congregation about the homosexual content in the film.
The letter, which was posted on the council's website, read: "Some Christian leaders here are deeply concerned about the LGBT representation in this new Disney movie. They see this as an attempt to influence young children and socialise them at an early age into thinking that the homosexual lifestyle is normal.
"NCCS would... encourage pastors and church leaders to urge members of their congregations - especially parents - to exercise discretion in guiding young children concerning viewing this movie."
The Catholic church also responded to the film's content.
Mr Andre Ahchak, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, said: "With extensive media reports of the purported 'gay moment' in this movie, we believe that parents must discern and reflect with their children on whether the lifestyle portrayed is consonant with the teaching of Christ. They must explain the implications and the consequences of such a lifestyle for themselves and society."
A similar advisory by Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah, who is NCCS president and the Anglican Bishop of Singapore, was posted on the St Andrew's Cathedral website last weekend.
Meanwhile, at least one theatre in the United States has chosen not to screen the film. The release of the film in Malaysia has also been shelved, despite regulators there approving it after censoring the gay moment.