"Ally" and "Ted Cruz" are not terms that go hand in hand. The Texas senator has a notoriously anti-LGBTQ record.
Among other attacks, Cruz urged states to ignore the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling affirming nationwide marriage equality and even backed the bigoted Kentucky clerk Kim Davis when she refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples.
During his presidential run, Cruz also blasted Donald Trump for "New York values," implying support for gay rights, and aggressively courted homophobic evangelical leaders in his campaign.
It's surprising, then, that Cruz has taken up the cause of antigay censorship — and not on the side of the censors. The Republican appeared Sunday on Fox News to criticize the U.S. entertainment industry for allowing China to censor its films for LGBTQ content.
“It really is tragic that Hollywood has been willing, over and over again, to kowtow to the Chinese communists and let the Chinese government censor American movies," Cruz told Sunday Morning Futures host Maria Bartiromo.
Specifically, Cruz was upset that Bohemian Rhapsody, the Oscar-winning biopic of Freddie Mercury, received edits to obscure the Queen front man's bisexuality — although in his critique, Cruz bi-erased Mercury by incorrectly referring to him as a "homosexual." In 2019, censors in China scrapped about a minute of content from the Rami Malek starrer, including a scene of same-sex kissing.
"Hollywood was more than happy to edit the scene out. They did it because the Chinese government didn’t want to acknowledge that Freddie Mercury was homosexual. Look, that’s a huge part of the story!" Cruz said.
“The problem is Hollywood is more interested in making millions of dollars from the Chinese market than they are in free speech, than they are in artistic integrity," he added.
Of course, Bohemian Rhapsody has come and gone from international theaters. So why is Cruz taking up this cause now?
Well, Cruz is introducing legislation called the SCRIPT Act (Stopping Censorship, Restoring Integrity, Protecting Talkies Act), which would deprive Hollywood studios of Department of Defense resources if they allow censorship of their films in China. Tinseltown often partners with the DoD to include military bases or equipment like tanks in its productions.
Therefore, it's now convenient for Cruz to highlight gay censorship in China in order to promote his political goals at home.
"From buying media outlets to broadcast propaganda into America to coercing Hollywood studios and sports leagues to self-censor by threatening to cut off access to one of the biggest markets for sports and entertainment in the world, the Chinese Communist Party spends billions and billions of dollars to mislead Americans about China and shape what our citizens see, hear, and think," Cruz said in an earlier Politico interview.
"All of these activities are part of China's whole-of-state approach to amass more influence around the world through information warfare — and we need to put a stop to it."
Many other nations, like Russia and Malaysia, also censor LGBTQ films — but Cruz and the SCRIPT Act only focus on China. The Asian nation has emerged as a political hot topic, especially in GOP circles, in the wake of a trade war and the current health pandemic, which has led to finger-pointing and competing narratives on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
Watch the interview below.