Barbie banned in Kuwait and facing censor review in Lebanon for ‘promoting homosexuality’

Barbie faces censorship in Kuwait and Lebanon.

Barbie is facing a reckoning in the Middle East, with Lebanon accusing the film of contradicting its “moral and religious values” and Kuwait banning the film outright.

During the past week, Gulf nations have ruled on whether Greta Gerwig’s box-office sensation can be released in their countries. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates will allow the film to be screened from the end of this month, although censor boards have requested edits pertaining to LGBTQ+ narration. However, this is not the outcome elsewhere.

The conservative state of Kuwait has not only banned horror film Talk to Me (starring trans actor Zoe Terakes) but now also Barbie.

The under-secretary of the Ministry for Press and Publication, Lafy Al-Subei, explained the reason for decision.

“Both movies promulgate ideas and beliefs that are alien to the Kuwaiti society and public order,” he said, according to a local news agency.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, culture minister Mohammad Mortada said that the Mattel-doll-inspired movie was found to “promote homosexuality and sexual transformation” and “contradicts values of faith and morality” by diminishing the importance of the family unit.

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Ryan Gosling as Ken (L) and Margot Robbie as Barbie (R).
Censors in Lebanon and Kuwait have not been tickled pink by Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

“The film goes against moral and religious values in Lebanon, as it encourages perversity and gender transformation while calling for the rejection of patriarchy and ridiculising the role of mothers.”

The interior minister, Bassam Mawlawi, has asked the general security’s censorship committee to launch a review of the film and issue recommendations, which is likely to result in a ban.

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Although Lebanon seemed to be making LGBTQ+ progress in 2017, by celebrating gay Pride and discussing the decriminalisation of homosexuality, things have taken a turn for the worse in recent years.

Barbie joins a growing list of films accused of featuring LGBTQ+ themes, characters and actors that have been banned or heavily censored in the Middle East. These include Black Panther: Wakanda ForeverBeauty and the BeastEternalsSpider-Man: Across the Spider-VerseLightyearOnwardand Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.

It is unclear what LGBTQ+ narratives have caused the movie to come under fire. Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, it follows Barbie’s journey to the real world, in a bid to understand her purpose in life after being plagued by existential thoughts.

While it certainly includes several LGBTQ+ references and queer-coded characters, there are no explicit LGBTQ+ roles or themes in the movie.

The film has also faced a backlash in the US, with staunch conservative pundits such as Ben Shapiro criticising it for “man-hating” and pushing an LGBTQ+ agenda.

Some right-wingers have even called for a boycott. However, not many people seem to have responded, with the film having already made more than one billion dollars at the global box office, so the latest censorship won’t worry the filmmakers unduly either.

Barbie is in cinemas now.

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