WHO Goodwill Ambassador protests discriminatory portrayal of leprosy in animated movie trailer.

Calls on production companies to modify or remove offending scene.

After learning that a trailer for a forthcoming animated feature film The Pirates! Band of Misfits produced by Aardman Animations Ltd. (headquarters: United Kingdom) and Sony Pictures Animation (headquarters: United States) portrays leprosy in a discriminatory manner, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and Japanese Government Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy Yohei Sasakawa sent letters of protest on January 18 to the two production companies, calling on them to promptly amend or remove the scene in question. He has also written to the distributor, Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., and other companies involved to take appropriate action.

In the scene, a pirate captain boards a boat demanding gold. “Afraid we don’t have any gold, old man, this is a leper-boat,” a crew member replies. “See,” he says as his arm falls off.
Sasakawa is seeking to have the scene amended or deleted on the grounds that:

  1. The term “leper” is recognized as discriminatory in Principles and Guidelines accompanying a unanimously approved 2010 UN General Assembly Resolution on Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy and Their Family Members, and its use rejected.
  2. Showing an arm falling off someone with leprosy is an inaccurate representation of the disease, contributing to misunderstanding and fostering discrimination.

Sasakawa has also requested that if other inappropriate expressions or scenes relating to leprosy appear in the film proper, that these too be modified or deleted.

The URL for The Pirates! movie trailer is here: http://www.thepirates-movie.com/


The Nippon Foundation
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