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Story highlights

Russia's laws prohibit the spreading of "gay propaganda" among minors

Director: LeFou character, sidekick to villainous Gaston, has an "exclusively gay moment" in film

(CNN) —  

A Russian lawmaker has urged that country’s government to ban Disney’s new “Beauty and the Beast” remake after labeling it “a blatant, shameless propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relationships.”

The complaint was detailed in a letter sent by Vitaly Milonov to the Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and reported by state-run news agency Ria Novsti. It says the movie should not be shown in Russia if the ministry found “elements of propaganda of homosexuality.”

The Ministry of Culture has not yet issued a ruling on the film, which stars Emma Watson and is scheduled to open in Russia March 16.

The movie is rated PG and is a live-action remake of the 1991 animated hit. Its director, Bill Condon, has said the character of LeFou, fawning sidekick to the villainous Gaston, has an “exclusively gay moment” in the film.

At the end of the film, there’s a huge celebratory dance – the kind where everyone’s in a big circle and regularly changes partners. On one of these changes, LeFou finds himself paired with another man. They freeze, surprised, in their “embrace.” The audience laughs and then the camera cuts away. That’s it – the moment is over in less than a second.

Russia’s anti-gay climate

Russia’s government passed legislation in 2013 prohibiting the spreading of “gay propaganda” among minors.

The law, which described homosexuality as “non-traditional sexual relations,” bars the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it.

The move drew fierce criticism from the international gay community and human rights groups across the world.

Laws which banned homosexuality in Russia were revoked in 1993 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But it was not until 1999 that homosexuality in Russia was dropped from a list of psychiatric disorders.

Milonov has been the driving force behind Russia’s anti-gay laws.

As a lawmaker with the ruling United Russia party, he ensured the legislation was first passed in his home city of St. Petersburg before it was adopted across the country.

In the past, he has called lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people “sick” and “crazy.”

Milonov also was a supporter of a new Russian law that decriminalizes some forms of domestic violence.

Controversy in the US

Milonov’s comments come after a drive-in theater in Alabama announced it would not show the new “Beauty and the Beast” movie because of its apparent gay content.

“It is with great sorrow that I have to tell our customers that we will not be showing ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” read a message on the Facebook page of the Henagar Drive-In Theatre in the northeast portion of the state.

“We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches,” the message continued. “We will continue to show family-oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language.”

The message was removed Friday evening, but CNN affiliate WHNT in Huntsville, Alabama has it here.

CNN’s attempts to reach the theater owners were unsuccessful.

The Facebook post drew thousands of responses from both supporters and opponents.

CNN’s David Daniel and Jay Croft contributed to this article.