BEIRUT — The Barbie movie, which is expected to be released in Lebanon on Aug.31, will likely never be screened in Lebanese theaters. On Wednesday, caretaker Culture Minister Mohamad Mortada asked the General Security, via the Ministry of Interior, to ban the film.
In July, the Barbie movie's release date in Lebanon was postponed in line with a delay across the Gulf countries.
In a statement published Wednesday afternoon, Mortada said he sent a memorandum to the General Security "to take all necessary measures to ban this movie in Lebanon."
"The film goes against moral and religious values in Lebanon, as it encourages perversity and gender transformation while calling for the rejection of patriarchy and ridiculizing the role of mothers," said Mortada, explaining his decision to request the ban.
"The Ministry of Culture and all concerned parties are called on to respect the decisions taken after the ministerial consultative meeting in Dimane on Tuesday ... which underlined the ... respect of family values."
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati held a cabinet meeting Tuesday at the summer residence of Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai in Dimane.
A joint statement published after the meeting called on "all authorities, educational institutions, the media and civil society to focus on national identity, its ethics and values, including the family ... ideas that clash with the divine order and the principles shared by all Lebanese must be confronted."
"This movie contradicts moral, religious and family values which protect the Lebanese society. Screening this movie in Lebanon will have the worst effects and consequences, notably among children," said Mortada in his statement.
Last week, Al Mayadeen TV, a Hezbollah-aligned TV Station, published a video on Instagram criticizing the movie for promoting "extreme feminism and homosexuality."
Traditionally, General Security authorizes or censors films and plays before they can be shown publicly in Lebanon. However, a General Security source told L'Orient Today on Wednesday that the decision to ban Barbie is out of their hands.
In October 2021, Ayman Mhanna, executive director of the Samir Kassir Foundation, which advocates for media freedom, told L’Orient Today that General Security's role as the sole censorship authority in Lebanon breaches a 1947 law stipulating that a committee of ministerial representatives should oversee pre-approval procedures.
Movies in Lebanon are regularly banned or partially censored over controversial issues. In June, the country banned Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse over a transgender pride flag, which briefly appears in the background of one scene.
Last year, Lebanon joined at least 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries in its decision to ban Walt Disney’s Pixar movie Lightyear over a same-sex kiss.