Samoa bans ‘Rocketman’ over gay sex scenes

The Pacific island nation of Samoa has banned the biographical Elton John movie “Rocketman,” complaining that its gay sex scenes are “not good for public viewing.”

Poster for “Rocketman”

By law, homosexual intercourse is punishable in Samoa by up to seven years in prison, though that law is not enforced.

Agence France-Presse reported:

[Samoa’s Principal Censor Leiataua Niuapu] told the Samoa Observer that the movie “violates laws against same-sex marriage and doesn’t go well with cultural and Christian beliefs here”.

“It’s a good story, in that it’s about an individual trying to move on in life,” he said.

“He (Elton John) went through a difficult family life and managed to move on and become very successful. But there are acts that are not good for public viewing and against the law.”

Samoa is a devoutly Christian nation and gay sex can attract jail terms of up to seven years, according to London-based lobby group Human Dignity Trust, although it notes authorities do not actively enforce the laws.

The country is also well known for its acceptance of fa’afafines — men who dress as women and adopt female mannerisms — known locally as the third sex.

“This censorship is yet another way for moral seekers to bash a few people for no good reason,” Tuisina Ymania Brown, a Samoan fa’afafine who is co-secretary of Geneva-based rights group ILGA.

She said fa’afafines were part of Samoa’s cultural fabric and the “Rocketman” ban was a contradiction of the tolerance they enjoyed.

“Now are we saying that art that celebrates fa’afafines are not allowed?” she told Newsline Samoa.

“The power of the church has now reached into censoring the celebration of art. There are more important issues we should focus on, such as gender-based violence (and the) church paying taxes.”

Samoa also banned the 2009 movie “Milk” about pioneering US gay activist Harvey Milk, but last year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was screened without attracting any complaints.

In Russia, the gay sex scenes were cut from “Rocketman”, prompting condemnation from Elton John and the stars of the movie.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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