Peak Islamic body, KPAI don't want Disney's 'Lightyear' to be shown in Indonesia

VOA Indonesia – June 19, 2022
Scene from Lightyear with Alisha and her partner – Undated (postsen)

Indra Yoga – Astronaut and protector of outer space “Buzz Lightyear” cooperates with many characters, including his commander Alisha, who is in love with another woman. A kiss between Alisha and her partner in the science fiction-adventure computer animation film produced by Pixaar and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures only lasts a few seconds. But it's impact has been extraordinary.

At least 14 countries in the Middle East and Asia have refused to allow the distribution and screening of the film which is a sequel to the Toy Story franchise. Several media have given the film a "PG" or "parental guidance" rating and it is likely that it will be banned in China, the biggest film market in Asia.

In a press release received by VOA, the secretary general of Indonesia's peak Islamic body, the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), Amirsyah Tambunan, said that the film conflicts with the state ideology of Pancasila, the first principle of which means "a society which believes in the God Almighty must hold the values of humanity in the highest esteem, one of which is partnering with the opposite sex and marrying legitimately in accordance with one's religion and beliefs".

Speaking bluntly, the MUI said that "the film Lightyear conflicts with the religious reaching of the majority of Indonesian's population, namely Islam, which prohibits same-sex marriage".

Lightyear promotes LGBT'

In an interview with VOA, Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) Commissioner Retno Listyarti called for the film Lightyear not to be given permission to be screened in Indonesia.

"Children don't know about sexual orientation and it is certain that children of that age usually they do not have a sexual orientation, moreover they perhaps also don't fully understand it yet. However in the earlier screening there was a message about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) as if it's promoting that it's okay, a big thing is made of it (a big thing within LGBT circles – Ed). That could perhaps be dangerous", she said.

Listyarti explained further what she means by dangerous. "If children who still do not have a clear sexual orientation are shown a spectacle with elements of LGBT in it, it is quite possible that those children will be influenced to think that LGBT is something ordinary. Moreover the film will continue to be watched. For example in a series, or for example continued with the same characters, just with a different story. Of course this will certainly influence (children – Ed)", she added.

Interviewed separately, Indonesian Film Censorship Board (LSF) Chairperson Rommy Fibri said that they have already examined the film and asked Disney Studios to reconsider the kissing scene which is still sensitive for the Indonesian public. The LSF, he said, has yet to issue a notification that the film has passed the censors.

"Because at the time there weren’t any subtitles yet and also the film maker (Disney – Ed) in this case through the importer wanted to hold a preview or review, so the LSF conducted a review. Then during the review the LSF found one scene which would still be sensitive for the Indonesian public. The LSF has only made a note, overall the film is okay, it will pass (the censor), moreover it could also be for 13 (years old) and the like. But please reconsider the LGBT kissing scene, because for Indonesian audiences the scene is still sensitive", he said.

Not first film to court controversy

Lightyear is not the first film to trigger controversy and end up being banned from distribution. In 2014 the LSF banned the film Noah because it depicted the Prophet Nuh (Noah) violating Islamic religious law. Meanwhile the film True Lies which managed to be screened for two weeks in 2014, was withdrawn from distribution after protests from a number of groups, including the NUI, who considered the film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger to insult the Islamic religion.

In 1982 the film The Year of Living Dangerously played by Mel Gibson was also banned because it was considered to touch on chaotic events in Indonesia when former president Suharto came to power. [iy/em]

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "MUI dan KPAI Serukan Film “Lightyear” Tak Diputar di Indonesia".]