BANGKOK — Walt Disney Studios has refused to cut a brief, gay-themed scene from “Beauty and the Beast” as demanded by government censors in Malaysia, meaning the film will not open there Thursday as scheduled.
The Film Censorship Board of Malaysia recently ruled that a shot involving two male characters dancing in a ballroom must be cut from the movie, on the grounds that it promotes homosexuality. The sequence is said to be three seconds long.
“The film has not been and will not be cut for Malaysia,” Disney said in a statement Tuesday without elaborating.
The film’s director, Bill Condon, has called the scene in question — involving a character named LeFou, manservant to the villain, Gaston — an “exclusively gay moment.” The film, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens and costing $300 million to make and market, is a live-action remake of Disney’s 1991 animated blockbuster of the same name.
Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, chairman of the censorship board, argued Wednesday that Malaysia was not preventing the movie from being screened. “It is in our guidelines that we don’t allow L.G.B.T. activity in movies in Malaysia,” he said in an interview. “They are the ones not allowing the movie to be shown. We approved it with a minor cut.”
He said the movie would have been shown with a PG-13 rating had Disney agreed to cut the scene.
Malaysia is a majority-Muslim country, and sodomy is illegal there, although the law is seldom enforced. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, has a thriving gay community.
Mr. Abdul Halim said it was common for his board to order cuts in movies before they are shown in Malaysia. “If they want to screen it here, they have to comply,” he said.
He said that Disney could appeal the board’s ruling to the Film Appeal Committee but that no request had been filed. “Malaysia is looking forward to the film,” he said. “The parents are looking forward to bringing the children. Even I, myself, look forward to bringing my grandchildren.”
With about 30 million people, Malaysia is a small part of Disney’s overall audience. “The Jungle Book” last year had $967 million in global ticket sales, and Malaysia represented $5.7 million of that total. In 2015, “Cinderella” took in about $540 million globally, with Malaysia contributing $4.5 million.
Russia agreed last week to let “Beauty and the Beast” be shown there, but it barred children under 16 from attending unless accompanied by someone over 16. A Russian lawmaker had called for it to be banned entirely, saying it was “blatant, shameless propaganda of sin.”
An earlier version of this article misstated the restrictions on what age children can see the movie in Russia. Children under age 16 are permitted to see it in theaters, but they must be accompanied by someone older than 16.