The Malaysian government has doubled down on its censorship of films with “LGBT elements” after banning Thor: Love and Thunder.
On 28 July, Malaysia’s Golden Screen Cinemas announced that screenings for Marvel’s latest release were no longer taking place after a two-week delay.
“Dear valued customers, please be informed that Disney has updated that Marvel Studios’ Thor Love and Thunder will not be releasing in Malaysia after all,” the company said in a vague social media.
However on 10 August, Malaysia’s Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin finally revealed that the film was cancelled over its LGBTQ+ characters.
“Recently, there was a film that did not pass censorship, that is the new Thor film,” he said during a Parliamentary State Council Q&A (per Variety).
“[The movie] touched on LGBT but we see right now there are many films with LGBT elements that slip past the censorship.
Zahidi then claimed that films are using subtle ways to incorporate queer elements as way to “promote LGBT.”
“Now there are many films on television, that passed (censorship), are full of LGBT elements,” he continued. “I am frustrated because the outside world was the one promoting LGBT.”
The minister also said that the government is constantly monitoring films and social media for LGBTQ+ content and “would take serious action against people found supporting such aspects.”
Thor: Love and Takde. Officially. ⚡️💔 pic.twitter.com/4iMZbOcs7j
— GSC #PengabdiSetan2 (@GSCinemas) July 28, 2022
Towards the end of his Parliament appearance, Zahidi revealed that the government’s censorship abilities only cover cinemas and broadcast TV – leaving streaming services like Disney+ and Netflix to air previously banned films.
“We cannot control overseas platforms that are easily reached online – but activities in the country, we have no issues. We have always been stern and committed,” he said.
“In addition, OTT services like Netflix are not like public broadcast services or private institutions in the country that fall under existing laws involving licensing and censorship in the country.”
Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t the only film to be banned from cinemas in Malaysia.
Disney Pixar’s Lightyear was also taken off the country’s release schedule due to the film’s brief same-sex kiss between queer space cadet Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) and her wife.
Aside from media censorship, the Malaysian government has consistently targeted the LGBTQ+ community due to its laws banning same-sex relations.
Most recently, the Human Rights Watch and Justice for Sisters revealed that the country has been using government funds for state-sanctioned “conversion therapy retreats called “mukhayyam.”
The government also introduced an app called Hijrah Diri –Homoseksualiti, which claimed to “help LGBTQ+ people “return to nature.”