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Russia gives new 'Beauty and the Beast' film a 16+ rating

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/7/2017
This image released by Disney shows Luke Evans as Gaston, left, with Josh Gad as LeFou, in "Beauty and the Beast." (Laurie Sparham/Disney via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Disney shows Luke Evans as Gaston, left, with Josh Gad as LeFou, in "Beauty and the Beast." (Laurie Sparham/Disney via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Despite pressure from an ultra-conservative lawmaker, Russia's Culture Ministry has approved the release of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" movie despite protests over a gay character.

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 7, 2016, Vitaly Milonov, a member of the city legislature and outspoken opponent of LGBT rights, speaks to the Associated Press in St. Petersburg, Russia. Milonov petitioned to have Disney's new "Beauty and the Beast" movie banned, but Russia's Culture Ministry on Tuesday March 7, 2017, has given the green light to the movie release in Russia, despite protests over a gay character. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, file) © The Associated Press FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 7, 2016, Vitaly Milonov, a member of the city legislature and outspoken opponent of LGBT rights, speaks to the Associated Press in St. Petersburg, Russia. Milonov petitioned to have Disney's new "Beauty and the Beast" movie banned, but Russia's Culture Ministry on Tuesday March 7, 2017, has given the green light to the movie release in Russia, despite protests over a gay character. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, file)

The ministry told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it has granted a screening license to the film with a 16-plus age restriction.

This image released by Disney shows Emma Watson as Belle, right, and Kevin Kline as Maurice in a scene from "Beauty and the Beast." (Laurie Sparham/Disney via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Disney shows Emma Watson as Belle, right, and Kevin Kline as Maurice in a scene from "Beauty and the Beast." (Laurie Sparham/Disney via AP)

The film's characters include manservant Le Fou, who plays the sidekick to the story's villain Gaston and, according to director Bill Condon, "is confused about his sexuality." Condon has described a brief scene as a "gay moment."

This image released by Disney shows Dan Stevens as The Beast, left, and Emma Watson as Belle in a live-action adaptation of the animated classic "Beauty and the Beast." (Disney via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Disney shows Dan Stevens as The Beast, left, and Emma Watson as Belle in a live-action adaptation of the animated classic "Beauty and the Beast." (Disney via AP)

In Alabama, a drive-in movie theater said it would not be showing the film as planned because of the scene.

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 7, 2016, Vitaly Milonov, a member of the city legislature and outspoken opponent of LGBT rights, speaks to the Associated Press in St. Petersburg, Russia. Russia's Culture Ministry on Tuesday March 7, 2017, has given the green light to the release of Disney's new "Beauty and the Beast" movie despite protests over a gay character. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, file) © The Associated Press FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 7, 2016, Vitaly Milonov, a member of the city legislature and outspoken opponent of LGBT rights, speaks to the Associated Press in St. Petersburg, Russia. Russia's Culture Ministry on Tuesday March 7, 2017, has given the green light to the release of Disney's new "Beauty and the Beast" movie despite protests over a gay character. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, file)

The culture ministry's decision comes several days after Vitaly Milonov, a lawmaker known for his extreme-right views, petitioned the ministry to ban it. In a letter released by the RIA Novosti news agency on Saturday, Milonov protested that the film disseminates "overt and shameless propaganda of sin and sexual perversion under the guise of a fairy tale."

Milonov, who was elected to the State Duma last year, is a former local lawmaker in St. Petersburg who has built his political career on opposing LGBT rights.

In 2013, Russia passed a federal law banning "gay propaganda" among minors. It was worded vaguely so it can be applied in a wide range of circumstances, for example, making it easy to target gay and lesbian teachers in Russia because they work directly with children. The law was modeled on a St. Petersburg bill that Milonov authored a year earlier.

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