The United Arab Emirates announced on Monday June 13 the banning of the animated film from Pixar studios Buzz Lightning, the first from the major American production company to contain a same-sex kiss scene. The wealthy Gulf State, which includes the emirate of Dubai in particular, and has a Ministry of Tolerance, is relatively liberal compared to its neighbors but remains governed by numerous restrictions on the political and social aspect.
Violation of “norms”
“The Animated Movie Buzz Lightningwhich is scheduled for release on June 16, is not permitted to be screened in any cinema in the United Arab Emirates, due to a violation of the media content standards in force in the country., announced on Twitter the Office of Media Regulation. According to this organization dependent on the Ministry of Culture and Youth, all films “are monitored and evaluated prior to the public screening date to ensure that the content being shown is age-appropriate.”
Reached by AFP, the ministry did not immediately respond to requests for clarification on the “norms” violated by Buzz Lightning, posters of the film are already plastered in the streets of Dubai. This ban comes six months after the country announced that films shown in its cinemas would no longer be censored, but only classified according to the age of the spectators, with a new category of works prohibited for those under 21.
Removed “LGBTQ references”
Censorship is a widespread practice in the Arab world, especially in the very conservative Gulf region. Films that contain scenes considered to be injurious to morals are often cut or even completely banned. In April, Saudi Arabia asked Disney to remove “LGBTQ references” to the Marvel film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessso that it cannot be screened in theaters in the ultra-conservative kingdom, neighboring the Emirates.
The Emirates have in recent years adopted social reforms presented as liberal to attract more expatriates, the country being made up of around 90% of foreigners from all over the world. Despite these reforms, the NGO Human Rights Watch last week accused the authorities of criminalizing “vague acts”like any behavior that “offend public decency and morals” or who “incite a life of sin”.