Amnesty International calls out Russia for editing gay sex and kissing from Elton John biopic Rocketman

Louis Staples
Saturday 01 June 2019 11:30
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Amnesty International has called on Russia to abandon its censorship of Rocketman, the Elton John biopic starring Taron Egerton.

The Elton John biopic is scheduled to open in Russia on 6 June, but - during the first prescreening - all scenes depicting kisses or sexual encounters between men were reportedly deleted. The closing credits, which depicted Elton John and his husband David Furnish with a caption explaining that musician ended up finding love, were also cut.

Following this, Amnesty International has labelled the censoring as another example of the “gay propaganda law” which "curtails freedom of expression" and “encourages homophobia”.

Natalia Zviagina, director of Amnesty International’s representative office in Russia, said:

This homophobic censorship of a film about Elton John is as ridiculous as it is insulting for LGBTI people and anyone in the country who stands for dignity and non-discrimination.

It is a sad irony that Sir Elton John himself promised back in 2015 that he would try to positively influence Vladimir Putin’s gay rights attitude.

By censoring any expression of affection between two human beings of the same sex, this mutilated version of the film insults and dehumanizes same-sex relationships. The distributors should take immediate steps to restore all deleted scenes of the movie.

Rocketman carries an 18+ certificate in Russia, which brings the question as to whether the Russian film distributor has gone beyond what is required even under Russia's homophobic law. No minor can be admitted to the cinema and therefore there is no risk of being “exposed” to supposed “gay propaganda”.

Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda law” was passed in 2013. It effectively prohibits any public display of homosexuality, under the justification that minors must be protected against the “harm” which positive information about “non-traditional sexual relations” would allegedly cause. Though no such restrictions apply to adults, or adult-only spaces, which makes the censoring of an 18+ certificate film even more unjustified.

Responding to the censorship, actor Egerton wrote on Instagram:

I am crestfallen that the decision was made to censor our movie for the Russian market. I’m even more disappointed to hear about it secondhand today on the day of our domestic release. I in no way condone this decision and feel disappointed I wasn’t made aware and given the chance to fight this move. Love is love. No compromises.

H/T: Amnesty International

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