India has banned the release of the LGBT+ film Love, Simon on the day it was due to be released - but people are fighting back.

India's LGBT+ community has been left reeling in disbelief at the last minute decision to ban the coming-of-age gay film, which has been lauded as an 'instant classic' and a 'hugely charming crowd pleaser' by critics across the world.

The romantic comedy-drama is the first major Hollywood release to tackle a gay teenage story line. It centres on Simon Spier, a closeted gay teenage boy in a high school, as he attempts to navigate coming out to his friends, family and peers.

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) decided to censor the film on the day it was due to be released because of the film's gay content, reports Gay Star News.

There has been considerable backlash on social media, with the hashtags #ReleaseLoveSimonInIndia and #LoveSimon gaining considerable traction.

A change.org petition has also been set up, Release Love, Simon in India. On the partition page, Muskan Mundra, the petition's author, writes:

India has lacked a mainstream powerful representation of its LGBT+ citizens for a long time. 

Although not Bollywood, this film could not only encourage LGBT+ kids to come out, but also educate parents about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual etc.

This film could have a tremendous impact on the country’s perception of what it means to be a part of the LGBT+ community.

The CBFC has an extensive history of over censoring, or banning LGBTQ+ films in India.

In 2015, the CBFC banned a lesbian film, Unfreedom, from being screened in India because they were worried that it would 'ignite unnatural passions' among those who watched it.

In 2017, the film Ka Bodyscapes, which explores the gay relationship between a painter and his lover, was banned because it 'glorifies' gay relationships and 'offends human sensibilities'.

Last year, cinema goers in India were also outraged by the amount of censorship that the film Moonlight underwent before it was released in India. Some said that the CBFC had cut out crucial parts of the film.

Gay sex is still illegal in India, and gay people are not allowed to marry, or enter into a civil partnership. However, there have been considerable movements to repeal the outdated and repressive laws.

As of 2018, the Supreme Court is set to reconsider whether to legalise same-sex sexual activity, and a draft Uniform Civil Code, if passed, would legalise same sex marriage in India.

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