The Margin: Disney’s ‘Doctor Strange’ film banned in Saudi Arabia over inclusion of a gay character, report says


Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” has been banned from theaters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, according to a Friday report from the Hollywood Reporter.

The ban is apparently related to the presence of a gay character in the upcoming Marvel blockbuster. According to the report, films that feature LGBTQ+ references are oftentimes censored or outright banned in many countries in the Persian Gulf because homosexuality is illegal there.

Marvel, which is owned by Disney DIS, +0.46%, had a similar problem with its 2021 “Eternals” film; it was banned across the Persian Gulf for its portrayal of a same-gender couple and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first openly gay superhero.

The Dr. Strange film features the character America Chavez, a lesbian hero who first appeared in Marvel Comics in 2011 — Chavez’s character is being played by Xochitl Gomez.

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Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as other countries in the Persian Gulf, have also censored the film “West Side Story” over its inclusion of a transgender character, and Pixar’s “Onward” because of a reference to lesbian parents.

The ban for these films applies to theatrical releases in those countries, the report says.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was originally set to be released across the Persian Gulf on May 5; the film will still be released on schedule in the U.S. the first week of May.

Disney did not immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment on this story.

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The news comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing to end Disney’s self-government rules as an apparent retaliation to the company’s remarks about the law named “Parental Rights in Education,” informally known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The law forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, a policy that has drawn scrutiny from people who argue it marginalizes LGBTQ+ people.

DeSantis had previously said Disney “crossed a line” by attacking the law.

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