‘Gay moment’ in Beauty and the Beast totally unnecessary: National Council of Churches

‘Gay moment’ in Beauty and the Beast totally unnecessary: National Council of Churches
Emma Watson stars as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, a live-action adaptation of the studio's animated classic directed by Bill Condon. Photo: AP via Disney

‘Gay moment’ in Beauty and the Beast totally unnecessary: National Council of Churches

SINGAPORE — The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) on Tuesday (March 14) weighed in on the controversy over Disney film Beauty and the Beast, calling the “gay moment” in the film “totally unnecessary”.

In a statement, NCCS added that 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 therefore encourage pastors and church leaders to urge members of their congregations — especially parents — to exercise discretion in guiding young children concerning viewing this movie,” said NCCS in an advisory signed by its president Rennis Ponniah and general secretary Ngoei Foong Nghian.

The two-hour movie, which will hit theatres here on Thursday, stars Josh Gad playing manservant LeFou, which is Disney’s first openly gay character. Director Bill Condon had told international media that that LeFou has “a nice, exclusively gay moment” in the movie. The film passed the regulators here with no edits. It was rated PG with some intense sequences of characters in perilous situations.

NCCS, which is expected to release a fuller advisory this week on the movie, pointed out that this was the first time “an explicitly gay character is introduced in a Disney big screen production”. The inclusion of the “gay moment” signals “a marked departure from the original 1991 Disney classic”, it added. “We would like our parents to be aware of this strand in the movie and its possible influence on their children who watch it, however subtle,” NCCS said, urging parents to be “attentive to the entertainment choices” of their children.

Separately, the Roman Catholic Church also called on parents to play an active role in discussing the film with their children, given the international media coverage on the controversy.

In response to media queries, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said: “Disney’s remake of Beauty and the Beast has been given a PG rating in Singapore. 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.”

The latest comments from the organisations follow an advisory issued on Monday by Mr Ponniah - in his capacity as the Anglican Bishop - urging his clergy and deacons to alert their congregation about homosexual content in the film.

Advising parents to provide guidance to children watching the film, Mr Ponniah had said: “Disney films for children’s entertainment are usually associated with wholesome and mainstream values. But times are changing at a foundational level ... LeFou is portrayed as gay and a ‘gay moment’ is included in the movie by way of a subplot.”

The film has caused a stir worldwide. In Russia, only those above the age of 16 are allowed to watch it. Its release was postponed in Malaysia, with the censorship board saying that it was awaiting a “minor edit concerning a gay moment” in the film.