Release of LGBT+ film Love, Simon delayed in India | News | DW | 07.06.2018
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Release of LGBT+ film Love, Simon delayed in India

India's film certification body has delayed the screening of coming-of-age film Love, Simon, according to reports. The decision has disappointed many in a country where homosexuality continues to be criminalized.

A decision to delay indefinitely the release of the film that delves into LGBT+ issues has sparked criticism in India, according to local media reports.

The romantic comedy-drama Love, Simon follows the story of 17-year-old Simon Spier, a closeted teenage boy, as he navigates coming out to his friends, family and peers while in high school.

The film was due to be released in India on June 1, but when people tried to book tickets, they found there were no listings, according to online news site Feminism in India.

Film poster for Love, Simon

Love, Simon won't be shown in India

Read more: Opinion: Same-sex marriage in Germany - a run-of-the-mill revolution

Gay Star News reported that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) banned Love, Simon because of the film's gay content.

The CBFC's certification guidelines state that "scenes showing sexual perversions shall be avoided and if such matters are germane to the theme they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown."

India continues to have laws that criminalize homosexuality. Section 377 of the Penal Code was declared unconstitutional in 2009 but was reinstated by the Supreme Court four years later; it makes homosexual sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison. That section of the penal code was introduced during the British rule of India.

Film 'could educate parents'

The film has been praised for putting LGBT+ issues front and center, with some critics saying the film is of educational significance.

Following the film's release, several celebrities, including Jennifer Garner, who stars in the film, Kristen Bell, Neil Patrick Harris and Matt Bomer, booked entire theaters so people could see the film for free. They said they believe the film conveys an important message.

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Critics outraged by India gay sex law

Love, Simon premiered at the Mardi Gras Film Festival in February before first being screened in the United States in March.

Numerous petitions have been started online calling for the film to be screened in India. One Change.org petition, written by Muskan Mundra, reads, "It's been more than 2 months and the LGBT+ community has been patiently waiting for the movie which finally gives the community some representation."

"India has lacked a mainstream powerful representation of its LGBT+ citizens for a long time. Although not Bollywood, this film could not only encourage LGBT kids to come out but also educate parents about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual etc. This film could have a tremendous impact on the country's perception of what it means to be a part of the LGBT+ community," the petition said.

Outraged Love, Simon supporters have taken to Twitter using the hashtag #ReleaseLoveSimoninIndia to air their grievances.

The film is not the first with LGBT+ themes to have problems being screened in India. In 2015, the film Unfreedom, which involves a lesbian relationship, did not receive certification. Last year, Indian filmmaker Jayan Cherian failed to have his film Ka Bodyscapes certified.

2018 has seen a glimmer of hope for LGBT+ rights in India, with India's Supreme Court having ordered a re-examination of the 2013 verdict that upheld the criminalization of homosexual relations.

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