Disney’s continuing efforts to figure out the reception of its films in non-U.S. markets hit a new wrinkle today. Specifically, THR reports that the company has simply opted out of a decent chunk of the conflict that inevitably erupts around the release of any of its films that involve acknowledging the existence of LGBTQIA+ people in the region—where sex between men is still punishable by imprisonment or death in at least nine countries. Instead, films like Lightyear, and TV shows like Baymax, which both contain depictions of LGBTQIA+ characters or relationships, simply won’t go on the service in the first place.
It’s worth noting that these omissions are essentially pre-emptive: Although countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have fairly strict censorship standards applying to theatrical releases (Lightyear, which contains exactly one same-sex kiss, didn’t screen in either), streaming is, so far, a much less regulated space. (Netflix even managed to get a sympathetically treated gay character into its first Arab-language movie, Perfect Strangers, earlier this year, to a mixture of good viewership and conservative outcry.) The decision is also in line with the “take it or leave it” approach Disney has been taking to its films in general for the last few years; although Eternals got some cuts before it could run in the United Arab Emirates, that was the last time the company allowed edits to be dictated to it by foreign bodies in that way.
As THR points out, this also isn’t a blanket policy: More adult-focused films, like Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness—which screened in the UAE but was kept out of other nearby countries due to depictions of a same-sex relationship—will be going into the Disney+ Middle East vaults. The streaming service began rolling out in the region back in June.