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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Lebanon and Kuwait moves to ban ‘Barbie’ film for ‘promoting homosexuality’

Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, has taken more than $1bn (£784m) in box office sales worldwide - a cool "Barbillion" as it's been dubbed. It is the first film by a solo female director to surpass the billion-dollar benchmark.

Lebanon’s culture minister moved to ban the film Barbie from the country’s cinemas on Wednesday, saying it “promoted homosexuality” and contradicted religious values.

Mohammad Mortada is backed by the powerful Shia Muslim armed group Hezbollah, whose head, Hassan Nasrallah, has ramped up his rhetoric against the LGBT community, saying it poses an “imminent danger” to Lebanon and should be “confronted”.

Mortada’s statement said the film was found to “promote homosexuality and sexual transformation” and “contradicts values of faith and morality” by diminishing the importance of the family unit.

He asked Lebanon’s general security agency, which falls under the interior ministry and is traditionally responsible for censorship decisions in the country, to take the necessary action to prevent the film’s screening.

There was no immediate response from the interior minister, Bassam Mawlawi, to a request for comment.

Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken, the movie sends Mattel Inc’s doll on an adventure into the real world. The film has topped $1bn in box office ticket sales worldwide since its 21 July debut.

Lebanon was the first Arab country to hold a gay pride week in 2017 and has generally been seen as a haven for the LGBT community in the broadly conservative Middle East. But the issue has come into sharper focus recently, sparking tensions. Mawlawi last year took a decision to ban events “promoting sexual perversion” in Lebanon, understood to refer to LGBT-friendly gatherings.

Kuwait has also banned the film Barbie in a bid to protect “public ethics and social traditions,” while a Lebanese minister has made moves to censor the film on grounds it “promotes homosexuality and sexual transformation”.

The Kuwaiti ban came shortly after Lebanon’s culture minister Mohammad Mortada criticised the movie, saying it “contradicts values of faith and morality” by diminishing the importance of the family unit.