Queer content involving Freddie Mercury has been cut from the version of Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody screening in Malaysia, a country where gay sex is still illegal.
Scenes removed from the Malaysian version of the film include the moment Mercury, played by Rami Malek, tells fiancée Mary Austin that he identifies as bisexual. Another scene missing involves the music video for the hit “I Want to Break Free,” featuring the band dressed in drag.
Malaysian Film Censorship Board chief Mohd Zamberi Abdul Aziz confirmed to the Malay Mail that the biopic had been censored to omit references to Mercury’s same-sex relationships.
But Aziz told the publication that the Malaysia version of the Bohemian Rhapsody only had “four gay scenes” missing.
He claimed the cuts “involved moments such as men kissing each other, men rubbing each other, and a group of men in dresses partying in a mansion.”
Key scenes referencing Mercury’s partner Jim Hutton were also cut from the Malaysian version of the film, Aziz said.
“Another scene removed was the post credit scene which stated Freddie Mercury and Jim Hutton lived a happy life because it showed that they were in a gay relationship,” he said.
“Anything related to LGBT or promoting it will not be approved.”
He said only 3 minutes had been removed from the film but declined to elaborate further, claiming it would “raise more arguments due to our different views.”
“One might not see a problem in cutting a particular scene, while another will have a different say,” he said.
Bohemian Rhapsody was also given an 18 rating – for adults only – in Malaysia, in contrast to the PG-13 rating it received in the USA and the M rating it received in Australia.
Malaysian fans of the film expressed their anger at the censorship on Twitter, with one viewer raging that the cuts left “huge plot holes” in the film.
“We straightwashed an already straightwashed movie and it’s still not appropriate [for under 18’s],” one Twitter user wrote.
“If a movie is already rated 18 then they shouldn’t do any censoring/cutting at all,” another wrote.
Disclaimer for watching #BohemianRhapsody in Malaysia: they cut out ALL the gay scenes thus leaving out HUGE PLOT HOLES.
I watched it in both Singapore & Malaysia & I realise you won’t fully understand if you watch it in Malaysia. Recommend to watch someplace else!!
— MalayVines™ (@MalayVines) November 9, 2018
In Malaysia the runtime for Bohemian Rhapsody is 110 minutes with an 18+ rating while in the rest of the world it's 134 minutes with a PG-13 rating. We straightwashed an already straightwashed movie and it's still not appropriate.
— Asaad (@asaadahmedd) November 5, 2018
IMO if a movie is already rated 18 then they shouldn’t do any censoring/cutting at all. Since its already stated that its for adults only, then they should be able to show the adult content. https://t.co/mnM5uj5jQO
— شاكيناه (@_nsyakinah) November 12, 2018
As in a number of Commonwealth countries, gay sex is banned in Malaysia under a British Colonial-era law.
Human rights groups say the ban is rarely enforced but in September two Malaysian women found guilty of attempting to have sex in a car were caned.
At the time, a collective of local groups condemned the sentence as a violation of the women’s human rights and warned of escalating homophobia and LGBTIQ oppression in the country.
In recent months, 20 men were arrested during a raid on a gay venue and ordered into counselling for “illicit behaviour” and a transgender woman was brutally beaten on a Malaysian street.
In August, the Penang government’s religious affairs minister ordered the removal of photographs of LGBTIQ activists from a state-sponsored exhibition in a bid to stop “the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia.”