It's a ban on Love, Simon Image: Twitter
June is LGBTQ Pride Month and India has a rather weird way of ushering it in — by pulling the plug on one of the highest rated gay romance films Love, Simon.
Based on the coming-of-age fiction Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon starring Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner has scored a 92 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also received incredibly positive reviews upon its worldwide release this March.
Love, Simon was supposed to release in India in June, but its release has been pushed back indefinitely. According to a report by Gay Star News, the Indian Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has banned Love, Simon because of its 'gay content.'
The movie was slated to release in Indian theatres on June 1 but people couldn't book tickets for the movie at the announced screening times, as a message notified them that tickets to the film were no longer available.
Love, Simon is a coming-of-age film about a closeted gay high school student named Simon Spier, who is coming to grips with his sexuality and navigates coming out to his friends and family.
It is one of the very few mainstream Hollywood outings in the last decade to feature a gay teenage romance as its main plotline.
"India as a nation has it's principles rooted in celebration of sexualities with no inhibitions. We are the land of the Kamasutra. We know love. We know sexuality. We make love, we celebrate sexuality. Therefore, CBFC, thou art anti-national. #repealCBFC #LoveSimon," he tweeted
There is also an online petition on Change.org launched by Muskan Mundra, named 'Release Love, Simon in India.' "India is considered as a progressive country but still hasn’t scheduled the release of Love, Simon in the cinemas despite the movie being released in majority of the countries. 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," Mundra writes on her petition page, which has been signed by 1,293 people.
The petition on Change.org to release Love, Simon in India (Image: Change.org)
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises homosexuality. The contentious law has been the focus of immense outrage in the last decade.
"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," Mundra added.
This is not the first time the CBFC has pulled the plug on films featuring LGBTQ storylines. In 2015, the CBFC banned the lesbian film, Unfreedom, from being screened in India on the grounds that it would 'ignite unnatural passions' among those who watched it.
In 2017, the film Ka Bodyscapes, which revolves around a homosexual relationship between a painter and his lover, was banned because it 'glorifies' gay relationships and 'offends human sensibilities'.