Disney’s new Marvel movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is causing some trouble in Saudi Arabia. The country banned the film because of what Saudi officials say is “barely 12 seconds” of America Chavez referencing her two moms. Disney was asked by Saudi officials to cut the moment from the film and the entertainment company refused to do so. So far, the film has also been banned from Egypt, Kuwait, and Qatar.
Disney has become an unexpected target in the current fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S. and around the world. After taking a stand against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the company has been targeted by anti-LGBTQ+ activists and politicians seeking to do harm to the company for siding with the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s just her talking about her moms, because she has two moms,” Nawaf Alsabhan, Saudi Arabia’s general supervisor of cinema classification, said according to The Guardian. “And being in the Middle East, it’s very tough to pass something like this. We sent it to the distributor, and the distributor sent it to Disney, and Disney has told us they are not willing.”
He continues to say that the edit request was sent to the distributor who sent it to Disney. Disney’s response was a flat refusal to make the edit.
The insistence by Saudi officials to edit the film might cost Saudi citizens a chance to enjoy the Disney blockbuster, which was slated for release in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries on May 5.
If it is “barely 12 seconds” of America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez, just “talking about her moms,” it’s hard to understand the reasoning behind refusing to release the movie. While Middle Eastern culture is closed off to these particular issues like LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms, Alsabhan makes it seem like a minor issue that they turned into a major roadblock.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is slated for a global release on May 6, 2022.