Network condemns Samoa's decision to ban Rocketman

The Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network (P.S.G.D.N.) has condemned the decision of the censor boards in Samoa and Cook Islands to ban screening of the Elton John movie “Rocketman”, due to its depiction of homosexual relations.

Rocketman is a 2019 biographical musical film based on the life of musician Elton John; an English singer, songwriter, pianist and composer. The movie has received critical acclaim overseas. 

In a statement, P.S.G.D.N. Executive Director, Isikeli Vulavou, described the banning of Rocketman in Samoa and Cook Islands as another "discriminatory act" against the L.G.B.T.Q.I+ people in the Pacific.

This emphasises his earlier comments describing the move as a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the L.G.B.T.Q.I+ Communities. 

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“Rocketman is a very inspiring movie, in that it’s about an individual trying to move on in life. Like most members of the L.G.B.T.Q.I+ communities, Elton John, also went through a difficult family life and managed to move on and become very successful,” Mr. Vulavou said. 

“The film is something the L.G.B.T.Q.I+ people, especially, can really take ownership of but here we have two censorship boards actively participate in the erasure of the lived realities and experiences of L.G.B.T.Q.I. people by banning powerful inspiring films such as this.” 

Mr. Vulavou also pointed out that there is a need for consistency by the Censor Board as there were violent and rated movies still being played in the cinemas. 

One of the focus of P.S.G.D.N. has been advocating for decriminalising homosexuality in the seven Pacific Island countries including Samoa and Cook Islands, which still criminalises it. 

“We pray that the censorship boards in other jurisdictions in the Pacific will step up and allow this movie to be enjoyed by their fellow citizens especially its L.G.B.T.Q.I. people and be inspired by one of the world’s music icons, to reach their full potential by being able to fully express themselves.” 

Elton John has been a vocal campaigner and activist for L.G.B.T.Q.I+ rights for 30 years and has also established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 working on education and prevention of HIV/AIDS.

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