An official from Saudi Arabia has said that while the nation is not planning on banning Doctor Strange 2 for its inclusion of a 12-second scene referring to a lesbian character, they’re still trying to get Marvel to cut the scene.
Saudi Arabia has asked Disney to cut all “LGBTQ references” from Doctor Strange 2 before its global theatrical release. An official from the nation denied reports that the film was being fully banned for its inclusion of references to the LGBT community, but they’re still trying to get a 12-second scene cut from the film.
Disney has since declined the request to edit Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, which is currently set to be released worldwide next week.
According to Nawaf Alsabhan, Saudi Arabia’s general supervisor of cinema classification, the cuts that the nation is requesting amounts to “barely 12 seconds in which a lesbian character, America Chavez, played by the actor Xochitl Gomez, refers to her two moms.
“It’s just one of the main characters talking about her moms, because she has two moms, and being in the Middle East, it’s very tough to pass something like this.”
Alsabhan added that they sent the film to their distributor and the distributor sent it to Disney with the request of the scene’s removal. Disney has since told the distributor’s that they were “not willing” to cut the scene. He also emphasized that despite the refusal, the movie will not be banned.
“It will never be banned, 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 released unconfirmed reports that the film had been banned in Kuwait, and advance tickets had been removed from being sold in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. The United Arab Emirates is still offering advance ticket sales. While Alsabhan claimed the movie wouldn’t be banned, fans are skeptical as Saudi Arabia refused to screen Marvel’s The Eternals because Disney refused to cut scenes featuring a gay couple.
“We sent the movie back to the distributor, and the distributor sent it to Disney, and Disney has told us they are not willing to cut the scenes. But we haven’t closed the door.”
An employee working for AMC Cinemas in Saudi Arabia has also claimed that the movie had been “withdrawn” from future show line ups. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salaman has been working to shake up the deeply conservative values that Saudi Arabia has, however.
In 2017, Salaman lifted a decades-long ban on all cinemas as a part of a series of social reforms he’s been making. Since the ban was lifted, movie ticket sales reached $238 million (when converted to American currency). This marks a 95% increase from the previous year, according to Variety Magazine.
Homosexuality is still seen as a capitol offence in Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom is known for its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law, which is also the basis of the nations’ judicial system. However, Disney has been much more vocal about their ally ship to the LGBT+ community in recent months, especially after Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, signed the “don’t say gay” bill.
DeSantis has also removed a statue that has allowed Disney to act as a local government in Orlando, where the Disney World theme park is located. This move came after Disney released an official statement that they stand with the LGBT+ community and will utilize their resources to get the “don’t say gay” bill reversed.
Disney has also made a commitment to emphasizing LGBT+ and other minority stories in the coming years.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.