‘Barbie’ to Be Banned in Lebanon for ‘Promoting Homosexuality … – Haaretz

Beirut’s move against the film, already banned in Kuwait, comes after a spate of anti-LGBTQ statements by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
Lebanese authorities are working to ban the Hollywood blockbuster “Barbie” from movie theaters in the country for allegedly violating “moral values.”
Lebanese Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada told the country’s official news agency, NNA, last week that the movie runs counter to “the values of morality and faith that are basic principles in Lebanon.”
The film has already been banned in Kuwait, where the head of the country’s film censorship board, Lafi al-Subaie, said the step had been taken because the movie “violated morals and public order.”
“The film promotes ideas such as homosexuality and transgender” identity, Mortada said. He charged that “Barbie” undermined the traditional role of the father in the Arab household, and accused it of “minimizing the importance of the mother’s role, making it ridiculous.”
Mortada added that the movie, which is based on the Mattel toy company’s Barbie doll and the doll’s boyfriend, Ken, “casts doubt on the necessity of marriage and building a family and presents them as an obstacle to the individual’s self-development, particularly for women.”
Mortada asked Lebanon’s film censorship board to take the necessary steps to prevent the film from being shown in the country. He took the step after the head of the Lebanese Shi’ite organization Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, called the members of the LGBTQ community “deviants.” Nasrallah also recently demanded a ban on the distribution of educational or cultural content that was positive toward the LGBTQ community.
Mortada, a former judge, is considered a supporter of Hezbollah. Following his announcement, Lebanese singer Elissar Khoury, better known by her stage name, Elissa, tweeted: “God willing, the culture minister won’t know what content there is on the internet and on Netflix, because he would cut us off entirely from the media.” The prominent singer, who is an opponent of Hezbollah’s efforts at religious coercion in Lebanon, has previously come out against similar policies.
“The decision to ban ‘Barbie’ is among the dumbest, and takes the country and its institutions backwards, Elissa added in the tweet. “Who’s going to tell the authorities that if there’s anyone who’s concerned about violating societal tradition because of a movie, the problem is with the society and not with the movie?”
Referencing the disastrous 2020 explosion at Beirut’s port that killed more than 200 people, Lebanese international relations Prof. Karim Emie Bitar, who lives in France, sarcastically tweeted: “Perhaps ‘Barbie’ is also guilty of the Beirut port explosion and the economic crisis in Lebanon?”
Opposition to the image of Barbie in the Arab world is nothing new. A couple of decades ago, the doll came in for criticism among conservative circles amid the claim that it represented Western ideas that damaged traditional family norms.
In Syria, an alternative doll named Fulla was developed that reflected Muslim Arab culture, including “modest” dress and a lifestyle of the kind that supposedly “befits” the Arab woman. The Fulla doll was enthusiastically received in conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia.
Until recently, Lebanon was thought to be a country where the LGBTQ community felt safe. In 2004, an organization called Helem was founded there to advance the rights of members of the community. It was the first in the Arab world to provide assistance to the community openly. Nevertheless, in recent years, homophobia has become more common in Arab countries at large, and in Lebanon, too.
According to the Lebanese-American singer Hamed Sinno, who is an LGBTQ rights activist and was the soloist of the former rock band Mashrou’ Leila, “The pace at which things are being banned is increasing from year to year. We [Lebanese] are reactionary and homophobic. How is it possible to continue to work that way?”
His group broke up after anti-LGBTQ officials barred it from performing in Lebanon.


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