Samoa bans Elton John biopic over homosexuality

10:53 (GMT+2) Tue, 11 Jun 2019

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The Pacific nation of Samoa has banned the Elton John biopic "Rocketman" because of its homosexual content.

About 97% of people in Samoa are Christians, and the nation is generally considered to uphold both conservative and traditional beliefs. Under Samoa's 2013 Crimes Act, sodomy is deemed an offense that is punishable by up to seven years in prison, even if both parties are willing participants in the act.

Samoa's principal censor Leiataua Niuapu Faaui told the Samoa Observer on Tuesday that the homosexual activity depicted on screen violated laws and didn't sit well with the country's cultural and Christian beliefs.

The censor did concede to the newspaper that "It's a good story, in that it's about an individual trying to move on in life."

Apollo Cinemas Samoa wrote on Facebook that "due to censoring issues we have had to cancel Rocketman."

The movie examines John's sexuality and relationship with then-manager John Reid. It stars Taron Egerton who does his own singing as John in the musical fantasy that aims to capture the essence of the musician's life.

Samoa, which is home to about 200,000 people, also banned the 2008 movie "Milk," in which actor Sean Penn portrayed American gay activist Harvey Milk.

The biopic opened about ten days ago and since then it has raked in about $101 million at theaters around the world.

(In the picture above, Elton John and his husband producer David Furnish, left, arrive for the UK Film Premiere of Rocketman at the Odeon Luxe in London on May 20th)