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Russia bans under-16s from watching gay character Disney movie

Luke Evans is Gaston and Emma Watson is Belle in the new Disney movie of Beauty And The Beast that features a gay character

CHILDREN under 16 will not be able to see the new Disney fairy tale film Beauty And The Beast in Russia because it includes a gay character, the culture ministry in Moscow said.

The decision for the 16-plus rating followed petitions by politician Vitaly Milonov, known for his ultraconservative views, who called for the live-action film starring British actress Emma Watson to be banned.

In a letter released earlier, Mr Milonov protested against the screening of a movie which he said disseminates "overt and shameless propaganda of sin and sexual perversion under the guise of a fairy tale".

Mr Milonov, who was elected to the State Duma last year, has built his political career on opposing LGBT rights.

In 2013, Russia passed a federal law banning "gay propaganda" among minors.

The law was worded vaguely so that it can be applied in a wide range of circumstances - for example, making it easy to target gay and lesbian teachers because they work directly with children.

The law was modelled on a St Petersburg bill which Mr Milonov authored a year earlier.

The film's scene in question involves the character of LeFou (Josh Gad), the timid and lovable sidekick to the preening villain Gaston (Luke Evans).

At the film's March 2 premiere in Los Angeles, director Bill Condon suggested that describing LeFou as Disney's first gay character was going too far.

"I keep saying it's more like the first gay moment," he explained, "because I think it's a very fluid character."

The director added: "You can't help but wonder, in his adoration of Gaston ... (is there) something more going on?"

In the US, one Alabama drive-in theatre has cancelled plans to show the film, which opens next week and stars Watson as Belle.

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