Censorship authorities in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates cut a brief same-sex kiss in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” shining light on the evolving contours of global censorship when it comes to LGBTQ representation.
The kiss in question takes place just before the end of the movie when Commander D'Acy (Amanda Lawrence), “a minor supporting character who first appeared in 2017's ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi,’ walks up to another woman in the Resistance and kisses her on the lips,” according to Variety. Fans reported the kiss was “brief" — like if-you-blink-you’d-miss-it brief.
Singaporean authorities told the BBC that the “Star Wars” kissing scene was cut in order to obtain a PG-13 rating. In the past, Singapore has allowed films with predominantly LGBTQ plotlines to be released, but they have been age restricted. The 2006 film “Brokeback Mountain,” for example, received a R21 rating, which meant only people ages 21 and up were allowed into cinemas to see it.
Male homosexual acts are still illegal in Singapore, though the Southeast Asian city-state does not enforce this British colonial-era law. Female homosexual acts, however, are legal.
The United Arab Emirates also reportedly cut the kissing scene from its version of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” and the Hollywood Reporter stated that the country’s large cultural influence in the Arabic-speaking world means it is likely that this edit “will be replicated across the Middle East.”
In the UAE, which follow Islamic sharia law in its criminal courts, all sexual relationships outside of heterosexual marriage are illegal. In the past, the UAE banned “Brokeback Mountain” and several other LGBTQ films from theatrical releases.
The lesbian smooch did make it onto silver screens in one of the world’s largest film markets: China. Beijing watchers expressed some surprise that the scene evaded censorship by Chinese authorities, but the Asian giant has recently eased up on censoring LGBTQ film representation. While China banned “Brokeback Mountain” and “Call Me By Your Name,” more recently it granted ”Bohemian Rhapsody” a full theatrical release — although with cuts of suggestive and gay content that some complained left the movie feeling disjointed.
The lesbian kiss in the latest “Star Wars” film was the first explicit LGBTQ representation in the history of the 42-year-old media franchise, which today includes films, books, animated television shows, theme parks and video games.
Prior to the film’s release, director JJ Abrams hinted that the film would include LGBTQ representation, which in the end amounted to only a brief flash on the screen.