Bohemian Rhapsody released in China with all LGBT+ references cut

A heavily censored version of Bohemian Rhapsody, with all LGBT+ content removed, has been released in China.

The film was shown in a limited number of arthouse cinemas over the weekend, with ABC News reporting that around four minutes’ worth of footage was cut.

Some of the cut scenes were integral to the film’s plot. The moment where Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) comes out as bisexual to his then-girlfriend Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) was removed entirely, leaving viewers at a loss as to why the couple broke up.

Most of the scenes between Mercury and his long-term partner Jim Hutton were also cut, while a real-life photo of the pair being excluded from the closing credits.

The recreation of the music video for Queen’s 1984 single “I Want to Break Free”, which saw the band dressed in women’s clothing, was also removed, while even a shot of Mercury holding a microphone stand near his groin was cut.

“It is seriously and obviously out of context, where many scenes in the film didn’t make any sense at all,” 28-year-old Feili Xie, who has seen the original cut and is a big fan, said.

“The whole film was about telling the audience who Freddie was, and sexuality was a very significant part of his identity, which was completely removed.”

Homosexuality is not a criminal offence in China and has not been for over two decades, but depictions of homosexual relationships in the media are still not permitted.

Although some called the very fact China has released Bohemian Rhapsody a win for the LGBT+ community, documentary filmmaker and LGBT+ activist Fan Popo told CNN that he found this view “dangerous”.

“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,” he said.