Kuwait bans Barbie film as Lebanon calls for action, citing ‘homosexuality’

Kuwait has announced a ban on the film Barbie in a bid to protect “public ethics and social traditions”. It comes shortly after a Lebanese minister called for barring the movie from cinemas for “promoting homosexuality”.

A spokesman for the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information said late on Wednesday that the film by Warner Brothers, which has topped $1bn in box office ticket sales worldwide since its debut, “promulgates ideas and beliefs that are alien to Kuwaiti society and public order”, according to the official KUNA news agency.

The ministry also banned the Australian supernatural horror film Talk to Me on similar grounds.

In Lebanon, Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada announced on Wednesday that he has asked the Lebanese interior ministry to “take all necessary measures to ban showing” Barbie in the country.

The film “promotes homosexuality and transsexuality … supports rejecting a father’s guardianship, undermines and ridicules the role of the mother, and questions the necessity of marriage and having a family”, he stated.

Following Mortada’s request, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi asked the country’s censorship committee, which falls under his ministry and is traditionally responsible for censorship decisions, to review the film and give its recommendation.

The film was due to be screened in Lebanon’s cinemas from August 31.

The call to ban the Barbie film comes amid a growing anti-LGBTQ campaign in Lebanon, spearheaded by the powerful Hezbollah group.

In a speech last month, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, called on Lebanese authorities to take action against materials he deemed to be promoting homosexuality, including by “banning” them. He said homosexuality posed an “imminent danger” to Lebanon and should be “confronted”.

In the case of a homosexual act, Nasrallah added “from the first time, even if he is unmarried, he is killed”.

Ayman Mhanna, executive director at the nonprofit civic Samir Kassir Foundation, told the Reuters news agency that the move to ban the film came amid “a wave of bigotry”.

“This is part of a broader campaign that is bringing together Hezbollah, the Christian far right, and other top religious leaders in a focused campaign against LGBT people,” Mhanna continued.

Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken, was widely anticipated by LGBTQ communities worldwide, though the film does not contain any overt references to same-sex relationships or queer themes.

It is the first film by a solo female director to surpass the billion-dollar benchmark.

The film has already been banned in Vietnam over a scene with a fictitious world map criticised for allegedly showing China’s claims in the disputed South China Sea.

The Philippines allowed the film to be shown – but asked that the map of the disputed sea be blurred.

The film’s release was delayed in Pakistan’s Punjab province over “objectionable content”, officials said last month, though they did not clarify which content was “objectionable”, nor why.

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