Disney will feature its first gay scene with a character seen struggling with his sexuality in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, the film's director Bill Condon says.
The film stars British actors Emma Watson and Dan Stevens with the manservant LeFou played by Josh Gad, who is the sidekick to the film's macho main man Gaston, and who grapples with his sexuality.
"LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston," Condon told Attitude magazine.
"He's confused about what he wants. It's somebody who's just realising that he has these feelings. It is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie."
Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a prince who is transformed into a beast, and a young woman who is imprisoned in his castle, as he tries to win her love.
"It's sad that we still haven't seen a lesbian, gay, bi or trans lead character in a Disney film," equality campaigns group Stonewall, said in a statement.
"We must see the film industry as a whole become more diverse, which means actively hiring more writers, directors and producers whose lived experiences represent all communities."
Attitude editor-in-chief Matt Cain said it was an important step towards fair representation of LGBT people in the media.
The decision to update a Disney classic, however, drew criticism in some quarters, with one commentator in an online discussion forum saying "gender politics has no place in children's entertainment. Leave the classic stories alone".
It is not the first time Disney has updated its films to reflect changing times and drawn a mixed reaction.
In a drive to promote racial diversity on screen, Disney featured its first black princess in the 2009 film, The Princess and the Frog.
Reaction was mixed; some critics voiced concern that her depiction only strengthened racial stereotypes.
-Thomson Reuters Foundation