Malaysian censors shred Bohemian Rhapsody

Heavily edited version tries to downplay Freddie Mercury's sexuality

by Jennie Kermode

Bohemian Rhapsody
Bohemian Rhapsody

He wanted to break free, but the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia has other ideas. Due to the country's stringent anti-homosexuality laws, Bohemian Rhapsody has been extensively cut to try and downplay Freddie Mercury's attraction to men.

Not only have scenes in which the star's sexuality is directly discussed been removed, the censors have also removed the video for I Want To Break Free, in which Mercury is famously depicted wearing a miniskirt while doing housework. The video was banned by MTV at the time of its release and one cut scene shows Queen's reaction to this.

Audiences can still see scenes in which Mercury flirts with men but these have been carefully cut. Because life with HIV is considered shameful in Malaysia - despite over 100,000 people there suffering from the condition - the term 'AIDS' has been muted out.

The film, which Malaysian viewers say no longer makes narrative sense, has lost 24 minutes in total and has been given an 18 certificate.

Bohemian Rhapsody has been criticised in the UK for paying too little attention to Mercury's sexuality and illness, which - especially given the prejudice he had to deal with as a result - were important aspects of his life.

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