Taika Waititi on why Lightyear’s LGBT love story is essential after UAE ban

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Taika Waititi has opened up on the importance of Lightyear’s LGBT love story after the film was banned in the United Arab Emirates.

The Thor: Ragnarok director lends his voice to the new Toy Story spin-off film, focused on Chris Evans’ Buzz Lightyear.

The movie features a sweet romance between Uzo Aduba’s Alisha Hawthorne and another character in a series of scenes that has led to Lightyear becoming the latest movie to be banned in the UAE.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk at the Lightyear red carpet, Taika said of the same-sex love story: ‘I think it’s so awesome.

‘It would be wonderful to one day get to a place where it doesn’t have to be a talking point. The idea that, to go and watch a movie and that’s your big problem? That’s crazy!

‘You never hear people going, “Oh, did you see that movie where that man and that woman kissed?!” If we can just let that go, love is love, if we can normalise it, then we’re moving towards a good space.

‘And when studios make these tiny little steps towards that, just like having a same-sex relationship, it’s just steps towards normalising it and I think you can’t ask for more than that.’

Taika and Chris had a blast at the Lightyear premiere in London (Picture: Getty Images Europe)
He voices the new version of Buzz (Picture: Invision/AP)
Taika opened up about the same-sex love story (Picture: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock)

While the UAE’s Media Regulatory Office did not give a specific reason for its decision, it stated vaguely on Monday that the Disney and Pixar film was banned for its ‘violation of the country’s media content standards’.

The country criminalises consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults.


Lightyear follows Buzz’s adventures as a marooned Space Ranger (Picture: PIXAR)
Fans are set to see a whole new side to him (Picture: Pixar)
Uzo Aduba’s character Hawthorne is featured in a sweet same-sex love story (Picture: Getty Images for Turner)

Taking to Twitter, the UAE’s Media Regulatory Office posted an image of Buzz Lightyear in the new film, crossed out with a red line.

This action was taken despite the country declaring it would stop censoring cinematic releases and would introduce a 21-plus age rating for films it classifies for older audiences just six months ago.

Keke Palmer also has an important role in the film (Picture: Karwai Tang)
(L-R) Taika Waititi, Tim Peake, Keke Palmer and Chris Evans at the UK premiere of Lightyear (Picture: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

The same-sex scene was reportedly originally cut from the film by Disney.

It was reinstated following the uproar surrounding a statement from Pixar employees claiming that Disney had been censoring ‘overtly gay affection’ and the company’s CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

Last year, Pixar’s Onward, a 2020 American computer-animated urban fantasy adventure film, was also reportedly banned by several Middle Eastern countries because of a reference to lesbian parents.

Lightyear follows Buzz on his adventures as a marooned Space Ranger, in the movie a young Andy could have watched before the events of the Toy Story films.

Lightyear is released in the UK on June 17.

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MORE : Nicola Adams’ girlfriend Ella Baig bares baby bump at Lightyear premiere as couple prepare to welcome first child

MORE : Lightyear review: Toy Story spin-off remains earthbound, but there is a cute cat

Taika Waititi on why Toy Story spin-off Lightyear’s same-sex love story is essential after UAE ban

I understand Rebel Wilson’s decision not to label her sexuality, but LGBT people need labels more than ever

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Journalists really aren’t supposed to make themselves the story. But – whoops! – Andrew Hornery from the Sydney Morning Herald has done just that, stealing focus from an international movie star.

He is accused of outing the comedy actor Rebel Wilson. Because after she posted on Instagram on Friday about her relationship with a woman, Hornery revealed he had approached her for comment the day before about the “story” – thereby, it appears, prompting her public disclosure.

The deranged weight of social media then landed on Hornery’s head. He’s now apologised, said he too is gay, and his editor insisted they will “learn” from this. But in all the messiness, something’s been missing in the response to Wilson’s statement: context.

She posted a photo with her beloved and said, “I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess.” She didn’t use a label. Not lesbian. Not bi. Not queer. Not pansexual. Just love.

In many ways, that’s lovely, and very 2022. Who needs labels? We’ve moved on! People are people! But these exclamation marks, in case I need to spell it out, invoke denial. A mass denial, particularly of heterosexual liberals, who are so desperate not to think about homophobic and transphobic oppression that they constantly convince themselves that THINGS ARE FINE NOW. Meanwhile, hate crimes against LGBTQ people soared during the pandemic.

But it isn’t just a fantasy of heterosexuals. I love Rebel Wilson and love that she has expressed her love publicly. But she forms part of a growing number of (particularly young) people – public figures and private individuals – who are refusing to attach labels to themselves. This matters.

Harry Styles said in April: “I’ve been really open with it with my friends, but that’s my personal experience; it’s mine. The whole point of where we should be heading, which is toward accepting everybody and being more open, is that it doesn’t matter, and it’s about not having to label everything.”

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And the fabulous young actor Kit Connor, star of Heartstopper, said last month: “I just feel like I’m perfectly confident and comfortable in my sexuality, but I’m not too big on labels and things like that… And I don’t feel like I need to label myself, especially not publicly.”

I share his sentiment. And maybe Connor and Styles are, essentially, heterosexual; I don’t know. I’d prefer if we didn’t have to use labels and hate the idea that people feel enclosed by them. Do three letters (gay) give adequate information about the depth of one’s being? No. Labels place artificial parameters on human beings.

But imagine if all LGBTQ people refused to label ourselves. The laws against same-sex activities would remain. We’d be shouting, “Er, gay doesn’t fully describe the breadth of my romantic and sexual feelings, thank you!” through the bars of our prison, without a single human rights law to help us.

Harry Styles might wish to live in the future where all the battles have been won, but everyone else will one day feel the flash of hatred’s blade against the neck. Coming out, saying the word – the label – has been our single most potent shield. Without the self-labelling people in London’s first Pride march, 50 years ago next month, without those who fought back at the Stonewall Inn three years earlier, all uniting under labels and demanding liberation, we would be in jail or in the closet.

I know many lesbians and gay men in middle and old age, who are not a six on the Kinsey Scale (the Heterosexual–Homosexual Rating Scale) yet pinned the label upon themselves out of a moral and social duty – less for themselves as for others. Have we forgotten solidarity, so intoxicated are we by the dream that we have already won?

No one wants to be reduced. Public figures whose talents have often made them so, do not want their artistry confined to a label. But this is the transition stage. One day, we hope, no one will need labels. But now? As fascist forces assemble across the world? We need labels quick, with as many people holding them aloft as possible, chanting as one, so governments see our size, and recognise our power.

Because in the end, real emancipation isn’t born of you or me or any individual. It’s about us.


LGBT charity urges men to avoid oral sex in new monkeypox sexual health advice

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Gay and bisexual men should avoid oral sex and positions that involve face-to-face contact to limit the spread of monkeypox, a charity has said.

The LGBT Foundation has released sexual health advice for men who have sex with men, who have made up the majority of new cases of the virus.

Monkeypox relies on prolonged close contact to spread, meaning it can be passed on during sex — although it is not classified as a sexually-transmitted infection.

It transmits via direct contact with infectious sores or scabs and through body fluids, like droplets from people’s mouths.

The LGBT Foundation – a Manchester-based charity – has urged people to choose sex positions that are not face-to-face to reduce physical contact.

It said: ‘Consider having sex in front of a mirror if you want to see your partner’s face whilst having intercourse.

‘Think about how you can reduce contact — perhaps now is the time to try out some clothed role-play or that glory hole fantasy.’

The majority of monkeypox cases in the fresh outbreak have been in gay and bisexual men and have been linked to raves, festivals and sex parties in Europe.

The LGBT Foundation said men should also consider masturbating more and cleaning fetish clothing and equipment to reduce the spread of the virus.

Gay men should try a ‘gloryhole fantasy’ or mutual masturbation instead of regular sex to limit the spread of monkeypox, the LGBT Foundation has urged. Pictured: The Gran Canarian pride festival, held between May 5 and 15 and attended by 80,000 people from Britain and across Europe, is being investigated after being linked to numerous monkeypox cases

Health chiefs in the UK are currently advising anyone with a new rash or blisters to avoid having sex until they get tested. Brits who test positive are told to wear a condom for eight weeks after they overcome the virus. 

The World Health Organization has also urged people to their number of sexual partners.

Public health messaging has predominantly been aimed at gay and bisexual men, but experts warn monkeypox can be spread by anyone. 

LGBT Foundation’s 10 ways to reduce infection risks during sex 

  1. Limit the number of people you have sexual contact with and the number of times you have sex 
  2. You should ensure you thoroughly wash both before and as soon as possible after, ensuring you don’t share towels 
  3. Consider the surfaces that will be touched during the activity, consider using an easy to wipe surface or using a towel that can be thoroughly washed afterwards
  4. Consider less risky sexual activities such as mutual masturbation
  5. Continue to practice safer sex, whether it is through using condoms, PrEP, or both
  6. Some infections are passed on saliva or by skin to skin contact. To reduce this risk, avoid sexual activity that exchanges saliva such as kissing and spit play. Try to avoid oral sex, or reduce the risk by using barrier protection such as a condom, internal condom or dental dam for oral sex. 
  7. Some infections can be passed on through faeces, including Shigella. For these infections, anal sex and in particular rimming increases your risk
  8. Choose a sexual position that isn’t face-to-face. Think about how you can reduce contact – perhaps now is the time to try out some clothed role-play or that glory hole fantasy
  9. If you do use sex toys, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned before and after use 
  10. Limit the use of any fetish clothing or gear. Clean any gear thoroughly before and after use 

It comes after another 11 cases of the virus were spotted in England on Tuesday, taking the UK’s total number to 190.

The LGBT Foundation published 10 recommendations for sexually active gay and bisexual men to limit their risk of catching or spreading monkeypox.

Its first guideline tells people ‘the fewer people, the better’ when it comes to sexual partners.

The charity also recommends people avoid having sex on dirty surfaces or use wipes to clean them before and after.

Masturbating together — rather than full penetrative sex — is advised because ‘activity with less close contact will reduce the risk of some infections’.

And people should continue to use condoms as a measure to lower the risk to themselves and partners, it said. 

Sex toys should not be shared between partners and people should avoid kissing, the guidance says. 

An almost identical list of reccomendations were published by the charity during the Covid pandemic to reduce the risk of passing on the killer virus during sex.

But the guidelines have now been updated to include ways of preventing flu and monkeypox.

The intro to the 10 recommendations reads: ‘Whether it’s Monkeypox, Flu, or Covid-19, close contact with sexual partners can increase your risk of contracting an infection.

‘Despite this risk, we understand that for some people sex is important and so below are some ideas on how to reduce the risk.’

UK Health Security Agency guidelines currently ask people to abstain from sex or close contact with others ‘until their lesions have healed and the scabs have dried off’.

Experts have previously linked the global monkeypox outbreak to sex at two festivals in Europe.

Dr David Heymann, who used to head the WHO’s emergencies department, said someone with the tell-tale monkeypox lesions likely ‘spread it to others when there was sexual or close physical contact’.

He said this may have happened at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium.

The Gran Canarian pride festival, held between May 5 and 15, is being investigated after being linked to numerous monkeypox cases. 

And organisers of a large-scale fetish festival in Antwerp, which ran from May 5 to May 8, said there is ‘reason to assume’ someone at the event had monkeypox.

On its designated monkeypox information page, the LGBT Foundation says: ‘Monkeypox is spread through skin-to-skin or close contact, which means it can be passed on during sex, but it is not known to be sexually transmitted. 

‘It can be passed on by touching bedding, towels, or clothes used by somebody with a rash caused by monkeypox, or rarely through coughs and sneezes of a person with monkeypox.

‘It is important that everyone is aware of monkeypox symptoms. 

‘Even if your rash is not monkeypox, other infections such as herpes and syphilis can cause rashes which need treatment. 

‘Rashes are common and most will not be caused by monkeypox, but may still require treatment. It is a good idea to speak to a medical professional if you have any new rash.’ 


Greece Bans LGBT Conversion Therapy for Minors

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Athens Pride. Credit :Camerawalker /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Greece banned conversion therapy, or a widely criticized method of attempting to change one’s sexual or gender identity, for minors on Wednesday.

The bill, which passed in parliament, will impose hefty fines and even prison terms on psychologists and other mental health professionals who conduct conversion therapy on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) minors without their explicit consent.

Additionally, advertising any kind of conversion therapy is forbidden under the law.

Conversion therapy, often dubbed “reparative therapy” has been discounted by psychologists and human rights experts across the world as completely ineffective. Research has repeatedly shown that there is no method of changing one’s sexuality.

Greece bans conversion therapy, advertising practice

As the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the US, notes, “minors are especially vulnerable” to the practice, and it can have tragic impacts on those who receive it, such as “depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.”

Speaking to Parliament, Health Minister Thanos Plevris stated that “there were some false treatments that stated that when a minor has a different sexual orientation, his parents could supposedly proceed with ‘treatments’ for this child to ‘return to normality.’”

“Obviously these treatments not only are not a therapy but they are not supported scientifically,” he continued.

In 2020, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, recommended that conversion therapy, especially for minors, be banned. France, Canada, and New Zealand banned the practice this year.

He stated that the practice is “inherently discriminatory” and amounts to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and that depending on the severity or physical or mental pain and suffering inflicted to the victim, [it] may amount to torture.”

Calls to ban the practice have intensified in recent years, particularly in the US and Europe. In 2021, lawyers Ilias Trispiotis and Craig Purshouse argued that the practice should be banned in Europe as it violates Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits degrading treatment.

The bill comes as the country has released a legislative strategy to improve gender equality in Greece. The country passed a landmark set of laws aimed at strengthening women’s rights in 1983.

In 1983, Greece signed and ratified the landmark “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,” which is one of the most progressive of such laws in Europe.

Country also aims to ban surgeries on intersex infants

The 1983 legislation totally reformed Greece’s previously oppressive family laws, as it provided for gender equality in marriage, abolished the dowry, expanded the divorce law, decriminalized adultery, and provided equal rights to children of unwed parents.

While progressive for the time, the law lacked in the areas of domestic abuse, and also in LGBT related issues.

Plevris stated that the country would also look to ban surgical procedures on the genitals of infants who are born intersex, or have ambiguous genitalia and chromosomes.

Many intersex people have spoken out against such procedures, which effectively decide one’s own sex before they are even old enough to understand the concept. Additionally, when one undergoes puberty, their hormones may not match with the decision doctors made when they were infants.

In January of 2022, Greece lifted a ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood in the country. Greece imposed the ban Greece in the 1980s during the HIV/Aids epidemic.

Health minister Thanos Plevris and deputy Mina Gaga signed a ministerial decree in January to remove such restrictions. Current criteria debarring someone from donating blood will no longer include homosexuality.


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