Marvel's “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” has been banned in Egypt over the gay characters featured in the film.
In a Tweet on April 23, IMAX Egypt, a chain of movie theaters famous for showing films in 3D, announced that they wouldn't be offering Marvel's newest installation of Dr. Strange. "Doctor Strange and Wanda will not be here during their journey between universes," the Tweet said.
— IMAX Egypt (@IMAXegypt) April 23, 2022
“#DoctorStrangeInTheMultiverseOfMadness won't be released in Egypt," IMAX Egypt announced.
In an interview with The New Arab, an anonymous source privy to the matter explained that the ban is over a gay character. "The film was banned because of the presence of the openly homosexual character America Chavez," the source told The New Arab.
According to the Human Dignity Trust, a group of lawyers, researchers, activists, and communications specialists supporting LGBT organizations, Egypt considers same-sex activity a crime.
This led to the country banning Eternals, an earlier blockbuster Marvel film, for having a scene that features two males kissing. The ban was confirmed by Ahmed Abdel-Geleel, the head of the Egyptian Censorship Authority.
EqualDex, a collaborative knowledge base for the LGBT movement, rated Egypt's equality index at a meager 12 out of 100. Although only same-sex acts are criminalized in Egypt, homosexuality is "illegal in practice," EqualDex described.
A Muslim-dominated country, Egypt's cultural acceptance of homosexuality is almost non-existent. Despite having no legal infrastructure criminalizing homosexuality, Egypt's courts still find a way to prosecute the LGBTQ community in the guise of "breaching laws on public decency" and "abnormal sexual relations."
This punitive culture against the LGBTQ community has become more apparent in Egypt and other Gulf states. These include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman, countries that also banned the Eternals and the latest Dr. Strange movie.
Disney pushed back on the request made by Saudi Arabia, supported by the other Gulf countries, to edit the film. Nawaf Alsabhan, the general supervisor of cinema classification for Saudi Arabia, said, "It's just her talking about her mums because she has two mums." But "being in the Middle East, it's very tough to pass something like this," Alsabhan said.