Pixar's 'Onward' banned in Middle Eastern countries over lesbian character

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Officer Specter in Onward (Credit: Disney)

Several countries in the Middle East have axed new Pixar movie Onward, after it emerged that one of its characters is openly gay.

The film will now not be shown in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, because of the brief reference to a secondary character being in a relationship with another female, according to Deadline.

Onward, which features the voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, is being shown elsewhere in the Middle East, however, notably in Lebanon, the AUE, Egypt and Bahrain.

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The scene in question, Holland and Pratt's characters Ian and Barley Lightfoot are impersonating their mother's boyfriend, a centaur, at the police station.

In a conversation with another officer, a female cyclops called Specter, voiced by Lena Waithe, she refers to 'my girlfriend's daughter' in a conversation about parenting.

Though it's a brief moment, the character has been held up as Disney's first fully 'out' character, despite it being unintended in the movie's script, with Waithe asking if she could use 'girlfriend' instead of 'husband' in the script during a recording session.

“I was just like, ‘It sounds weird,’” Waithe told Variety. “I even have a gay voice, I think. Like, I don’t think I sound right saying ‘husband.’ They were like, ‘Oh yeah, do that.’ They were so cool and chill. And it ended up being something special.”

Read more: Onward didn’t always have fantasy setting

Director Dan Scanlon has since said that he wanted to further expand the character.

He told Yahoo Movies UK: “After we recorded her, we wished we had expanded [the role].

“Lena Waithe is not only a great actress but a great writer and she improvises and was just such a joy to work with.

“We thought: 'oh man, I want to do a movie with her again'.

“I think it's a wonderful embarrassment of riches that we have a cast of people who, even in doing small parts, bring them to life and elevate them and keep you wanting more.”

Disney has not yet commented on the movie's ban, but the scene has been re-dubbed in Russia too, with 'girlfriend' being changed to 'partner'.