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Home World News Washington Post World News In Saudi crackdown on LGBTQ expression, even rainbow toys are not safe

In Saudi crackdown on LGBTQ expression, even rainbow toys are not safe

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The Saudi Arabian government seizes toys, clothing and other rainbow-colored items that raise the well-known Pride flag and promote homosexuality among children.

It is the most recent crackdown by Saudi Arabia and some of its neighbors against objects and forms of art and expression that feature gay characters or are seen to promote LGBTQ rights, including superhero films that are not shown in Saudi cinemas because they same-sex pairs and hundreds of kites seized in Syria because of their many colors.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce posted a video to Twitter this week showing officials walking around shops inspecting toys, backpacks and other items for rainbow hues.

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“Our surveillance teams go through the points of sale and seize products that contain symbols and signs that require aberration and contradict their proper nature, and impose penalties on facilities that are in violation,” the post said, using a derogatory term to imply homosexuality. indicate. †

The Commerce Department did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.

The crackdown was also reported by state television channel Al-Ekhbariya, with a reporter tracking ministry staff through shops in the capital Riyadh, confiscating toys, hats and other accessories, while ominous music played in the background.

A ministry official said of one of the items that it “indirectly promotes homosexuality,” and a voiceover said the toys “are nothing but poisoned messages targeting the innocence of children.”

The US State Department, in its latest annual report on human rights, flagged “reports of official and societal discrimination, physical violence, and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, access to education, and health care” in Saudi Arabia. .

President Biden will visit the oil-rich country in July to attend a summit of several Arab heads of state.

The crackdown follows reports that Marvel Studios’ latest offering — “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” — won’t be showing in Saudi theaters because it briefly features a same-sex couple, much like Marvel’s early “Eternals” movie. wasn’t shown, or “West Side Story” for similar reasons.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture did not respond to a request for comment from The Post. Disney did not respond in time for publication.

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Variety also reported that Disney and Pixar’s “Lightyear,” an animated film that follows Buzz Lightyear’s alien adventures, was not submitted to Saudi authorities for approval because the production studios believed it would not get the green light.

Other countries in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, also decided not to show the film. The ban in the UAE came six months after the gulf country announced it would stop censoring cinematic releases. Lebanon is one of the few Arab countries with a strong, somewhat public LGBTQ presence compared to others in the region.

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Chris Evans, the voice of Buzz Lightyear, told Reuters: “There will always be people who are scared and unconscious and trying to hold on to what came before. But those people are dying out like dinosaurs.”

The official US celebration of Pride Month by the diplomatic corps has also led to some incidents in the region. The Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called the US chargé d’affaires to account over posts on the embassy’s social media to celebrate the month. The ministry mocked “symbols and tweets supporting homosexuality” made by the embassy, ​​saying these messages went against a 1961 Vienna Treaty on Diplomatic Relations.

The embassy held the posts high.

As the United States celebrates Pride Month, Republican lawmakers have drafted a slew of bills to curtail discussions of sexual or gender identity in schools and challenge the rights of young people who identify as transgender.

In the Syrian city of Hama, the Directorate for Internal Trade and Consumer Protection said it had seized about 600 children’s rainbow kites that “indicate sexual homosexuality,” and said the kites were similar to the Pride flag. The announcement was made on the directorate’s Facebook page, along with violations by butchers and bakeries and photos of dozens of seized Chinese-made fliers.

In the wake of news reports that some Qatari hotels would not accept guests from the LGTBQ community during the upcoming World Cup, football’s global governing body released a statement on June 1, claiming there would be no discrimination.

FIFA said the World Cup will be “a celebration of unity and diversity” regardless of race, religion, disability and sexual orientation. It added that it has “urged hotels and other contractors involved in welcoming LGBTQIA+ fans to Qatar to do so in a manner that respects everyone’s rights and privacy.”

Timsit reported from London, Dadouch from Beirut. Ellen Francis in London contributed to this report.



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