Via The Guardian: Saudi Arabia has asked Disney to cut “LGBTQ references” from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness before it can be screened in the kingdom. An official has denied earlier reports that the Saudi Arabian government has outright banned the film.
Disney has declined to make such edits to the sequel so far, and time is running out for Saudi Arabian censors as the film releases to the world this Friday. The modification that the Saudi Arabian government wants consists of removing “barely 12 seconds” of footage where a lesbian character, America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez, refers to her “two moms,” according to Nawaf Alsabhan, Saudi Arabia’s general supervisor of cinema classification.
“It’s just her talking about her moms because she has two moms,” Alsabhan said. “And being in the Middle East, it’s very tough to pass something like this.”
He added: “We sent it to the distributor, and the distributor sent it to Disney, and Disney has told us they are not willing.
Alsabhan also addressed the rumor that the film had been banned in the Middle Eastern nation.
“It will never be banned,” he told Agence France-Presse. “There’s no reason to ban the film. It’s a simple edit…So far, they have refused. But we haven’t closed the door. We’re still trying.”
Last Friday, The Hollywood Reporter revealed unconfirmed reports that the superhero sequel had also been banned in Kuwait. Advanced ticket sales have been removed from sales in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, but not the United Arab Emirates.
An employee for AMC Cinemas in Saudi Arabia has claimed the film has been “withdrawn.”
This stand-off has been done before between Disney and Saudi Arabia as early as last year. Before the scheduled release of Eternals, the Saudi government and other Gulf countries requested edits that would exclude a gay couple featured in the film. Disney refused to make the cuts, and the film did not screen in that region.
Homosexuality is a capital offense in Saudi Arabia, known for its strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia Law.
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat