The Barbie movie was taken off the screens on Wednesday by Lebanon’s government, which claimed it promoted homosexuality and went against the country’s morals.
After pushing back the movie’s debut date to the end of August, Lebanon’s culture minister, Mohammad Mortada, reportedly outlawed it from theaters because it goes against the country’s moral and religious ideals as well as its principles.
The directive comes at a time when certain leaders and government representatives in Lebanon and the larger Middle East are using more anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. At a speech commemorating Ashura, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon’s Shiite Islamist Hezbollah movement, unleashed a diatribe against gays.
In a video message sent a few days prior, Nasrallah threatened the community, calling for the use of insulting language and their punishment. According to a study by Human Rights Watch, LGBTQ people have experienced online bullying and death threats in the wake of the address.
The government has been harshly repressing LGBTQ events, despite Lebanon once being regarded as one of the Middle East’s most socially open nations. Kuwait has additionally sought to prohibit the Barbie movie on the grounds that it promotes inappropriate behavior and sends forth a message that is at odds with societal norms.
Barbie outperformed predictions at the box office, earning $1 billion in sales three weeks after its debut. Early in July, the film was also outlawed in Vietnam due to a map showing China’s claim to the South China Sea.