Rocketman: Elton John biopic banned in Samoa over depiction of homosexuality

‘Unfortunately due to censoring issues we have had to cancel Rocketman’

Clémence Michallon
New York
Wednesday 12 June 2019 09:13 BST
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The nation of Samoa has banned the Elton John biopic Rocketman because of its depictions of homosexuality.

Samoa’s principal censor Leiataua Niuapu Faaui told the Samoa Observer on Monday that the movie includes “acts that are not good for public viewing, and against the law”.

The censor did concede to the newspaper that “It’s a good story, in that it’s about an individual trying to move on in life”.

About 97 per cent of people in Samoa identify as Christian, and the society is generally considered conservative and traditional.

Under Samoa’s 2013 Crimes Act, sodomy is deemed an offence that is punishable by up to seven years in prison, even if both parties consent.

Apollo Cinemas Samoa wrote on Facebook that “unfortunately due to censoring issues we have had to cancel Rocketman”.

Rocketman, released in May, documents John’s sexuality as well as his relationship with his then-manager John Reid.

It stars Taron Egerton who does his own singing as the pop icon.

Scenes from Rocketman that feature gay sex and drug use were previously censored in Russia.

John wrote in a joint statement with the filmmakers that it was a “sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people”.

Russian gay rights activists and prominent figures denounced the move. Although homosexuality is not criminalized in Russia, animosity towards gay people remains strong.

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Samoa, which is home to about 200,000 people, also banned the 2008 movie Milk, in which actor Sean Penn portrayed American gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

Since opening 10 days ago, Rocketman has taken in about $101m (£​79m) at cinemas around the world.

Additional reporting by agencies

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