Samoa bans ‘Rocketman’ over gay sex


rocketman elton john taron egerton samoa
Photo: Paramount

Censors in Samoa have banned blockbuster Elton John biopic “Rocketman” from cinemas over its gay content.

The “epic musical fantasy” film explores Elton John’s turbulent early years, including his relationship with first manager John Reid.

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Apollo Cinemas Samoa wrote on Facebook that Samoa’s only screenings of Rocketman were cancelled “due to censoring issues.”

Samoa’s Principal Censor Leiataua Niuapu confirmed the film had been banned for containing many scenes that were “not good for public viewing”.

Niuapu told the Samoa Observer the film “violates laws against same-sex marriage and doesn’t go well with cultural and Christian beliefs here”.

“It’s a good story, in that it’s about an individual trying to move on in life,” he said.

“[Elton John] went through a difficult family life and managed to move on and become very successful.

“But there are acts that are not good for public viewing and against the law.”

The devoutly Christian nation bans gay sex, which is punishable with up to five years jail. However, the laws aren’t actively enforced.

LGBTIQ activists in Samoa slammed the ban. Samoa Fa’afafine Association president Alex Su’a said the country’s censorship policies selectively targeted LGBTIQ content.

rocketman
Samoa Fa’afafine Association. Image: Facebook

“I still find movies at the shop that are highly violent and find their way through,” he told ABC News.

“The powers given to the principal censor is just too powerful.

“We’re still seeing institutional discrimination and we’re seeing that here with the principal censor on the Rocketman movie.”

In 2009, censors also banned gay biopic Milk, based on the life of US gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

Samoa’s ban goes even further than Russia’s treatment of ‘Rocketman’

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Earlier this month, Elton John condemned “in the strongest possible terms” Russia’s censorship of Rocketman’s queer scenes.

Russian journalists said the local distributor had edited around five minutes of the film. The country’s so-called “gay propaganda” law prohibits the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” to minors.

As well as scenes of drug use and gay sex, Russia cut the ending message that Elton found “the love of his life” and became a father with husband David Furnish.

Elton described the edits as “a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.”

“We will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world,” he said.

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