According to CNN, Chinese censors — who’ve banned portrayal of “abnormal sexual behavior,” including gay and lesbian relationships in TV and film — removed scenes of two men kissing and the word “gay” from the film that tells the story of the British band and their flamboyant late lead singer, Freddie Mercury.
The movie depicts Mercury’s flirtations and relationships with both men and women and despite the censorship, some members of China’s LGBT community told CNN that the mere release of the film in their country is a “victory.”
“If everyone becomes content with this kind of ‘victory,’ then the whole world will always submit to authority, creators won’t be respected and there will be no protection for the interests of the audience,” Chinese documentary filmmaker and LGBT activist Fan Popo told CNN about the idea that the film’s release is something to be lauded; a very limited number of Western movies are released in China every year.
Among the moments reportedly excised from the film: a close-up of Mercury’s hip-thrusting, a kiss between the singer and his boyfriend, Paul Prenter, Mercury’s longtime lover and friend Mary confronting him over his sexuality, answering “No Freddie, you’re gay,” when he claims he’s bisexual.
The word “gayer” was also reportedly taken out in a scene where Mercury asks drummer Roger Taylor what he think of his new haircut, the whole scene depicting the band’s cross-dressing “I Want to Break Free” video is out and, in a cut that creates a big plot hole, the scene where Mercury grabs future partner Jim Hutton’s crotch at a party — leading to their eventual relationship — is gone, making it confusing to tie together how they later end up together.
Other cuts are more subtle, such as during a press conference where Mercury is asked about his sexual orientation, in which a reporter’s question is translated as “sex life” in the Chinese subtitles, which changes the meaning of the query. Despite the trims, CNN said the average Chinese viewer can still “infer Mercury’s sexuality” in scenes such as the one in which the singer comes out to his parents by holding Hutton’s hand.
While homosexuality is not illegal in China, CNN noted that activists and experts say prejudice and discrimination are still common.
A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox could not be reached for comment at press time.