In Saudi LGBTQ crackdown, even rainbow toys aren’t safe

President Biden is set to visit the oil-rich country in July to attend a summit of several Arab heads of state.

The crackdown follows reports that the latest offering from Marvel Studios – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – will not be shown in Saudi cinemas because it briefly features a same-sex couple, much the way Marvel’s early Eternals film wasn’t shown, or West Side Story for its trans character that identifies as a man.

Saudi Arabia’s Culture Ministry did not respond to a request for comment from Washington Post. Disney did not respond in time for publication.

Variety also reported that Disney and Pixar’s lightyeahr, an animated movie following the extraterrestrial adventures of Buzz Lightyear, was not submitted to Saudi authorities for approval because the production studios thought it would not get the green light.

After bans in other Middle-eastern nations, Pixar did not submit Lightyear for screening in Saudi Arabia.

After bans in other Middle-eastern nations, Pixar did not submit Lightyear for screening in Saudi Arabia. Credit:Disney/Pixar

Other countries in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, also decided against screening the movie. The ban in the UAE came six months after the gulf country announced it would cease censoring cinematic releases. Lebanon is one of the only Arab countries that has a strong, somewhat-public LGBTQ presence in comparison to others in the region.

Chris Evans, who is the voice of Buzz Lightyear, told Reuters “there’s always going to be people who are afraid and unaware and trying to hold on to what was before. But those people die off like dinosaurs.”

The official US celebration of Pride Month by its diplomatic corps has also led to some incidents in the region. Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry summoned the US chargé d’affaires over embassy social media posts celebrating the month. The ministry derived “symbols and tweets that support homosexuality” made by the embassy, ​​and said these posts went against a 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The embassy kept the posts up.

In Syria’s Hama city, the Directorate of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection said it had confiscated around 600 children’s rainbow kites that “indicate sexual homosexuality,” saying the kites were similar to the Pride flag. The announcement was made on the directorate’s Facebook page, listed alongside violations made by butchers and bakeries and photos of dozens of the confiscated Chinese-made kites.

In the wake of news reports that some Qatari hotels would not accept guests from the LGTBQ community during the upcoming World Cup, football’s global governing body issued a statement June 1 insisting that there would be no discrimination.

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FIFA said the World Cup will be “a celebration of unity and diversity” regardless of race, religion, disability and sexual orientation. It added that it has been “insisting hotels and other contractors involved in welcoming LGBTQIA+ fans to Qatar to do so in a manner that respects the rights and privacy of everyone.”

Washington Post

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