The Chinese release of Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is coming under fire, after censors removed all references to homosexuality, AIDs and cross-dressing.
As a result, the film now has huge plot holes and is confounding Chinese audiences due to missing or abruptly edited scenes, according to the Associated Press.
Peng Yanzi, a Chinese LGBT activist who has seen both the western cut of the movie and the Chinese version told AP: “The cut scenes really affect the movie.
“The film talks about how (Mercury) became himself, and his sexuality is an important part of becoming who he was.”
Among the scenes missing is the one in which Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury comes out to his long-time partner Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton).
Also missing is where Mercury reveals to his band-members that he has AIDS, and there’s also reputedly confusion over his lovers Paul Prenter and Jim Hutton, with Hutton – played by Aaron McCusker – losing his entire introductory scene.
Hua Zile, the editor of VCLGBT, an LGBT account on China’s Weibo social network, told AP: “It’s a pity. “This kind of deletion weakens his gay identity. It’s a bit disrespectful to his real experience and makes the character superficial. There is no growth and innermost being of him.”
Another film-goer, after having seen the film online and then going to see the theatrical version added that in the cinema, dialogue became ‘incoherent’, though it was still relatively clear that the principle character is gay.
The move by the Chinese authorities is not entirely surprising.
In the coverage of this year’s Oscars, censors changed the subtitling during Rami Malek’s acceptance speech on winning the Best Actor gong.
Instead of ‘gay man’, the words ‘special group’ appeared on screen instead.
Though being gay in China is not illegal, there are no laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
Same sex couples are also not allowed to marry or adopt children under Chinese law.