‘Onward’ Censored in Russia Over LGBTQ Character

A lesbian cop voiced by Lena Waithe in Disney-Pixar film had dialogue changed in Russian dub

Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios

Disney-Pixar’s “Onward” has been censored in Russia over a brief line that identifies one character in the film as a lesbian.

According to a report in the Russian film site Kinopoisk.ru (via The Moscow Times), a line uttered by purple cyclops Specter — who is voiced by Lena Waithe in the American release of the film — was changed in the film’s Russian dub. Waithe is openly gay.

In the U.S. version, Specter says, “It’s not easy being a new parent – my girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out, okay?” Kinopoisk reports that in the Russian version of the film, the word “girlfriend” was changed to the more gender-neutral “partner.”

Disney, which handles distribution in Russia, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Onward” is also currently not screening in several Middle Eastern countries on the region’s biggest exhibitor, Vox Cinemas, including in Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, though it’s not clear whether the film is explicitly banned in those regions or if the scene with the lesbian character is the cause. However, the film is still showing in other MENA territories, including the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Bahrain and Egypt.

Russia since 2013 has a federal law in place designed to censor what the media has dubbed an “anti-gay law,” but the Russian government has labeled “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values.” Elton John last year called out Russian president Vladimir Putin for the censorship of the film about his life story, “Rocketman.”

“Onward” is a family, fantasy adventure about mystical creatures living in modern-day suburbia. The voice cast of the U.S. version includes Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer.

“Onward” opens in U.S. theaters Friday.