Billy Eichner’s history-making gay rom-com Bros banned from Middle East over gay sex scenes

Luke Macfarlane and Billy Eichner attend Universal Pictures's Bros New York premiere

American comedian Billy Eichner’s history-making gay rom-com Bros will not be shown in the Middle East, Universal Pictures has confirmed.

The first R-rated gay rom-com made by the studio has been pulled from the region “due to cultural and commercial reasons”, a source told IndieWire.

Bros is set to premiere in the US on 30 September and in the UK on 28 October. It will then be rolled out across most international markets the following month and into November. 

It is not expected to screen in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Kuwait, considering the nations have already banned films with queer-themes this year.

Most Middle Eastern nations outlaw same-sex intimacy with the maximum penalty in Saudi Arabia being the death penalty. 

According to research into the Middle East by the House of Commons Library, of the 11 UN-member states that impose the death penalty for same-sex relations, five were in the Middle East. These states are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.  

The same research showed five places in the region do not criminalise same-sex relations: Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Turkey.

Ahead of the release of Bros, Billy Eichner sent out an ‘apology’ to “homophobes” warning them of the film’s premiere. 

The romantic comedy, directed by Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Nicholas Stoller, follows Bobby (Eichner), a gay podcaster who meets and quickly falls for gym-rat Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) – but as is the case with any rom-com, there are obstacles along the way for the couple.

Alongside Billy Eichner, the all-LGBTQ+ cast includes Bowen Yang, Harvey Fierstein, gender-nonconforming star Miss Lawrence and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Symone, to name a few. 

Despite the film not yet being out, homophobes have been doing their best to bomb the film’s IMDb page with one-star reviews. These reviews have since been scrubbed from the movie’s page. 

Eichner previously gave PinkNews and other LGBTQ+ outlets a first look at the Bros trailer in a bid to prioritise the needs of queer people. 

He said: “As you know, Bros is historic in several ways. It’s the first gay-rom ever released by a major studio, it’s the first major studio film with an all LGBTQ+ cast in all the roles – even the straight roles – and apparently I’m the first openly gay man to ever write and star in his own major studio film, which is bizarre and infuriating but somehow true.”