Bohemian Rhapsody to be released in China—without queer content

A shirtless Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which is reportedly set to come out in China

Oscar-winning Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody will reportedly be shown in China, in a censored release.

Key moments making Mercury’s bisexuality explicit will be cut from the film, including intimate kisses between Rami Malek’s Mercury and other men, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Portrayals of drug use will also reportedly be censored when the film is released in mid-March, just weeks after it won four Oscars, including a best actor award for Malek.

Bohemian Rhapsody success may lead to wider China release

The film’s limited release is down to the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas, which is partly funded by the state-supported China Film Archive.

And if audiences come to see Bohemian Rhapsody in large enough numbers, other cinemas may pick it up for wider release.

Rami Malek accepts the Actor in a Leading Role award for 'Bohemian Rhapsody'—which is set to be released in China—during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California.

Rami Malek picks up his best actor Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody (Kevin Winter/Getty)

China has censored gay content from films before Bohemian Rhapsody

China has a history of cutting queer scenes from films.

In 2017, authorities in the country removed a gay kiss between two characters played by Michael Fassbender from Ridley Scott’s Alien Covenant.

Scenes including gay sex were also cut from Cloud Atlas, a film directed by the transgender Wachowski sisters and starring Halle Berry and Tom Hanks, when it was released in 2013.

Iconic gay love story Brokeback Mountain was banned entirely in 2006.

Bohemian Rhapsody news comes after Rami Malek’s Oscar speech is censored in China

A Chinese broadcast of Malek’s Oscar speech has been criticised this week for translating “gay man” to “special group” in its subtitles.

The misinterpretation was posted online to—who are linked to popular Chinese broadcaster Hunan TV—on Monday (February 25).

“What are you afraid of?”

— A Sina Weibo user about the censoring of Rami Malek’s Oscar speech

While collecting his best actor Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody, Malek said: “We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself.”

But the website translated “gay man” into “special group,” sparking outrage on Chinese social platform Sina Weibo.

One user asked the site: “What are you afraid of?”

This was not the first time that has been accused of straight-washing.

In May 2018, the company was stripped of its right to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest after it removed a song that described a gay relationship and blurred rainbow flags in the crowd.