Anti-LGBTQ Saudi Arabia has banned Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness from premiering in the kingdom next month, due to its inclusion of a gay character.
The upcoming Marvel sequel, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Elisabeth Olsen, also features a gay character, America Chavez, played by actress Xochitl Gomez, as portrayed in the comics. With homosexuality illegal and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, films that feature any LGBTQ references or topics are frequently banned by censors.
Doctor Strange in the Muliverse of Madness was due to be released in theaters across the Gulf along with its global release on May 5th. While advanced tickets are no longer available in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, they are still available in United Arab Emirates, suggesting it may still be released there.
In January, West Side Story was banned in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait over the transgender character Anybodys, played by nonbinary actor Iris Menas. Chloe Zhao’s Eternals was banned across most of the Gulf nations in November over its inclusion of a same-sex couple in the film and the first gay superhero. Censors reportedly had requested edits to the film that Disney refused to make.