The Pacific island nation of Samoa, where 97 percent of people identify as Christian, banned the Elton John biopic Rocketman for its portrayal of homosexuality.
Homosexual sex is a punishable offense in Samoa under its 2013 Crimes Act. The nation’s principal censor, Leiataua Niuapu Faaui, told the Samoa Observer on Tuesday that the R-rated film’s explicit portrayal of John’s homosexual relationship with then-manager John Reid violates Samoan law, as well as cultural and Christian beliefs.
A Russian distributor also censored scenes from Rocketman that show gay sex and drug use, drawing criticism from gay rights groups, the film’s producers, and John, who called it a “sad reflection of the divided world we still live in.” Homosexuality is not outlawed in Russia, but the majority of its people denounce it.
Earlier this year, Samoa, home to about 200,000 people, joined China in censoring scenes from the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody that depicted lead singer Freddie Mercury’s bisexuality and AIDS diagnosis. Samoa also banned the 2008 movie Milk, which chronicled the life of American gay activist Harvey Milk.
Rocketman has grossed more than $111 million globally since its release on May 31. —Mary Jackson