Disney Pixar's 'Onward' Banned in Multiple Countries Over Lesbian Reference

Disney and Pixar's new movie Onward features a very brief LGBTQ scene, with one of the mythical characters in the film revealed to be a lesbian. Although it is only a minor part of the animated film, Onward was completely banned in some Middle Eastern countries. Russia also edited the reference out of the version playing there.

In the film, the two lead characters, voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, disguise themselves as their mother's centaur boyfriend and get into a conversation about parenting with two female police officers. One purple cyclops character named Specter, voiced by comedian Lena Waithe, tells them, "It's not easy being a new parent. My girlfriend's daughter got me pulling my hair out, OK?"

The reference is only in that one scene, but it was enough to get the film banned in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, reports Deadline. However, the film is playing in other Middle East markets, including Lebanon, Egypt and Bahrain.

In Russia, which previously censored moments in Disney's Avengers: Endgame and Paramount's Rocketman to edit out LGBTQ references, had the Onward scene censored. Instead of mentioning a "girlfriend," the cyclops character mentions a "partner" and does not mention her gender.

While Disney has promoted Specter as the studio's first openly gay character in an animated film, Onward has come under criticism for only making that one, easily deleted reference to the character's sexuality. In fact, director Dan Scanlon told Yahoo Entertainment he wished Waithe's character had a bigger role.

"After we recorded [Waithe] we wished we had expanded [the role]," the Monsters University director said. "Lena Waithe is not only a great actress but a great writer and she improvises and was just such a joy to work with."

"We thought: 'oh man, I want to do a movie with her again,'" Scanlon continued. "I think it's a wonderful embarrassment of riches that we have a cast of people who, even in doing small parts, bring them to life and elevate them and keep you wanting more."

Producer Kori Rae added that Specter should be the first of many diverse characters included in Pixar movies.

"We really wanted to make sure that the world of Onward was representative of our world and all that it entails," Rae said. "So I hope we'll see more [representation]."

Pixar has included hints of LGBTQ characters in the past, but only in the background. Same-sex couples were seen in Finding Dory and Toy Story 4. When Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton was asked if the couple was supposed to be LGBTQ, he did not give a straight answer though.

"They can be whatever you want them to be," Stanton told USA Today in 2016. "There's no right or wrong answer."


Onward is now in theaters. Pixar's next movie, Soul, which stars Jamie Foxx, opens on June 19.

Photo credit: YouTube/Pixar