Russian Federation gives Beauty and the Beast adults-only rating over gay character

The film hits theaters March 17.

In a statement to the AP, the Russian Culture Ministry said the 16-plus rating was put in place after lawmaker Vitaly Milonov petitioned to have the film banned. However, Gad himself responded to it by telling People Magazine that Lefou and his ultimate fate are another part of the film's "Never judging a book by its cover" message. "The minimum age is 16+".

"I'm convinced that the main task of the state regarding children is to protect childhood and youth from the filthiness of the world, to preserve children's purity, to block our children off from harmful and risky phenomena", Milonov said, according to Britain's The Guardian.

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Last week, Variety touted the news, including an excerpt from the film's director, Bill Condon.

"LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston", Condon said.

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Josh Gad does damage control in an interview with People, describing LeFou's gay scene as "subtle but incredibly effective", and emphasizing the film's general "inclusiveness". And that's what has its pay-off at the end, which I don't want to give away.

During the initial furor over the announcement, Gad tweeted, "Beyond proud of this". The country removed homosexuality from a list of psychiatric disorders in 1999.

A Russian law prohibits the spreading of "gay propaganda" among minors.

Consequently, a silly drive-in theater in Alabama said they won't be showing the show, out of respect to the owner's religious values (a view that apparently isn't offended by a woman falling in love with an animal).

Beauty and the Beast is on track to make $120m on its opening weekend in the U.S. alone.

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