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

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

The crackdown follows reports that Marvel Studios’ latest offering – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – won’t be shown in Saudi cinemas as it briefly features a same-sex couple, much like early Marvel Eternals the film has not been shown, or West Side Story for his trans character who identifies as a man.

The Saudi Ministry of Culture did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. Disney did not respond in time for publication.

Variety also reported that Disney and Pixar Lightyesr, an animated film recounting the extraterrestrial adventures of Buzz Lightyear, was not submitted for approval by Saudi authorities because production studios believed it would not get the green light.

After bans in other Middle Eastern countries, Pixar did not submit Lightyear for screening in Saudi Arabia.

After bans in other Middle Eastern countries, 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, have also decided not to screen the film. The ban in the United Arab Emirates came six months after the Gulf country announced it would stop censoring cinema releases. Lebanon is one of the only Arab countries to have a strong and somewhat public LGBTQ presence compared to other countries in the region.

Chris Evans, who is the voice of Buzz Lightyear, told Reuters “there will always be people who are scared and unaware and trying to hold on to what was before”. But these people are dying like dinosaurs.

The official US celebration of Pride Month by its diplomatic corps has also led to incidents in the region. Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the US charge d’affaires over the embassy’s social media posts celebrating the month. The ministry mocked the embassy’s “symbols and tweets that support homosexuality” and said such messages violated the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The embassy maintained the posts.

In the Syrian city of Hama, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Protection Directorate said it confiscated around 600 children’s rainbow kites that “indicate sexual homosexuality”, claiming the kites were similar to the Pride flag. The announcement was made on the management’s Facebook page, along with violations by butchers and bakeries and photos of dozens of confiscated Chinese-made kites.

Following reports that some Qatari hotels would not be accepting guests from the LGTBQ community during the upcoming World Cup, football’s world governing body issued a statement on June 1 insisting that it there would be no discrimination.


FIFA said the World Cup will be “a celebration of unity and diversity”, regardless of race, religion, disability and sexual orientation. He added that he had “insisted that hotels and other contractors involved in welcoming LGBTQIA+ fans in Qatar do so in a way that respects everyone’s rights and privacy.”

The Washington Post

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