Censors are reportedly erasing references to Freddie Mercury’s bisexuality for the Malaysian release of Bohemian Rhapsody.
The Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) told Malay Mail that three minutes of material was removed from the Queen biopic before its Nov. 8 debut. According to chairman Mohd Zamberi Abdul Aziz, 12 scenes were affected by the cuts. Four of those scenes depicted the frontman’s relationships with men and women.
These scenes included “men kissing each other, men rubbing each other, and a group of men in dresses partying in a mansion,” Zamberi claimed.
“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,” the chief censor continued.
He declined to specify exactly which scenes were cut.
Zamberi accused the film of “promoting” homosexuality, which is illegal under Malaysian law. The country’s colonial-era sodomy ban punishes same-sex intercourse with up to 20 years in prison.
In addition, a 1994 law prohibits LGBTQ people from appearing on state-controlled media broadcasts.
But while Zamberi suggested the cuts were relatively modest and intended to preserve the integrity of the overall narrative, others have claimed the revisions were far more drastic. An earlier report in the same publication said that 24 minutes were sliced from Bohemian Rhapsody.
Whereas the film ran 134 minutes in its U.K. release, those changes would have resulted in a 110-minute runtime.
On Monday, the Malay Mail claimed a music video for the band’s 1984 hit “I Want To Break Free,” in which Mercury dresses in drag, was removed. The newspaper also said censors struck a pivotal moment where the iconic singer (played by Rami Malek) confesses to then-fiancee Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) that he’s bisexual.
Although Zamberi claimed the censorship board “only cut very few scenes per the guideline,” viewers who saw Bohemian Rhapsody in theaters alleged that straight-washing the film resulted in “huge plot holes.”
“I watched it in both Singapore & Malaysia and I realise you won’t fully understand if you watch it in Malaysia,” claimed Malay Vines.
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
Bohemian Rhapsody received an 18 rating in Malaysia, as opposed to a more permissive PG-13 for its U.S. release.
This isn’t the first time that films with LGBTQ characters have faced censorship in Malaysian cinemas. Beauty and the Beast was initially banned in the conservative South Asian country following news of the live-action remake’s “exclusively gay” moment, although censors later backtracked on the prohibition.
Bohemian Rhapsody has made over $100 million in the U.S. to date, and more than $26 million in the United Kingdom. Box office numbers are not yet available for its Malaysia release.
Image via 20th Century Fox