Toy Story spin-off Lightyear will not be released in Saudi Arabia due to the inclusion of a same-sex kiss, the latest in a series of Hollywood films banned in the Middle East due to LGBTQ+ content.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the scene in question involved a space guard named Alisha (voiced by Uzo Aduba) and her partner greeting each other with a kiss on the lips. Variety reports that Lightyear has not been subjected to censors in Saudi Arabia as it was expected not to go ahead due to the total ban on same-sex relationships. However, the Pixar film was submitted to censors in the relatively more liberal United Arab Emirates, but the film license was revoked after complaints on social media.
The scene in question had previously sparked controversy within the producing studio Disney after a group of LBGTQ+ Pixar employees published a letter protesting the removal of “openly gay affection” material from all animated films by studio executives. The protest was sparked by internal anger at Disney’s corporate stance on Florida’s “don’t say gay” law, which saw the company agree to cut political donations after it cut staff. Lightyear’s same-sex kiss was subsequently reported to have recovered after being cut off.
Lightyear’s troubles in the Middle East are the latest in a series of issues facing LGBTQ+ content movies in the region. The 2020 Pixar film Onward was banned in Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, as well as Saudi Arabia after a character, voiced by Lena Waithe, admitted she is a lesbian, while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness banned the release in a number of Gulf countries. was denied due to the inclusion of the lesbian teen character America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez). Saudi Arabia, which legalized movie theaters in 2018, also banned the recent West Side Story remake because it featured a transgender character. Black Panther did make a showing in the country, its first post-legalization, after Disney agreed to cut 40 seconds, including two kissing scenes.