Disney pulls kids show over gay character
Cape Town - The Disney Channel has pulled the coming-of-age tween show Andi Mack over a storyline in which one of the characters, Cyrus, explores his sexuality after developing feelings for another boy, Jonah.
It would be the first gay storyline to be featured in a Disney show.
The show was renewed for a second season in May this year following its debut season success. It was launched in April with the second season premiering in October.
The show was last week banned in Kenya over the gay storyline.
The Cape Argus approached DStv for comment, who referred all communications to the Disney Channel.
"Disney Channel creates stories that entertain and inspire kids and families and reflect the rich diversity of the human experience," the channel said via a spokesperosn.
"While our shows are developed for global audiences we are committed to respecting each market’s cultural sensibilities, compliance rules and regulations. Disney Channel in South Africa serves multiple countries across Africa and the Middle East, each with its own regulations to which we adhere.
"Accordingly, Andi Mack will not be broadcast through DStv, however, we are exploring alternative ways to make the series available to its fans in South Africa."
The canning of the show has drawn sharp criticism.
Cyrus discovers he has feelings for another boy, Jonah, at the start of season two. Picture: Supplied/Disney Channel
"The society we are living in today still does not accept gays and lesbians still, and from this situation alone it shows that they don’t accept gays," Transgender and Intersex Africa director Tebogo Nkwane said.
Not broadcasting the show would prevent parents from having open conversations with their children about LGBTI issues.
"We really should be talking more about these issues. If we don’t educate them (the children) how will they know how to respond when they encounter someone who is different?
"It’s borderline discrimination. It portrays that our community is immoral and if the media is not covering these issues how are we supposed to learn?"
Andi Mack follows the story of a girl who discovers on the eve of her 13th birthday that her older sister, who has just returned from extensive travel is, in fat, her mother, and that the woman she believes to be her mom is, in fact, her grandmother.
Cyrus, 13, played by 15-year-old actor Joshua Rush, discovers feelings for another male friend in the beginning of the second season.