Authorities in Lebanon moved to ban the “Barbie” movie from cinemas on Wednesday, saying it promotes homosexuality and violates the nation’s values.
Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada banned the film from cinemas after delaying its release date to late August, saying it contradicts the “moral and religious values as well as the principles of Lebanon,” state-run media reported Wednesday.
The minister said the movie also “promotes sexual deviance and transsexuality,” by Lebanese state-run media on Wednesday. “Sexual deviance” is a term commonly used in the Middle East to refer to homosexuals.
The ban comes amid heightened anti-LGBTQ rhetoric by some politicians and government officials in Lebanon and the wider Middle East.
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Shiite Islamist Hezbollah movement, launched a tirade against homosexuals in late July during a speech marking Ashura, which commemorates the killing of the Hussain bin Ali, Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, in the 7th century.
He referred to homosexuality as “sexual perversion” and identified same-sex relations as a “threat” to Lebanon.
Days earlier, Nasrallah threatened the LGBTQ community in a video message, encouraging the use of derogatory terms and for them to be punished.
LGBTQ people have reported online harassment and death threats following the speech, Human Rights Watch said in a report.
Lebanon was once considered one of the most socially liberal countries in the Middle East, but the government has been cracking down on LGBTQ events.