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Across the Spider-Verse’ UAE Ban Over Trans Flag Sparks Uproar

Across the Spider-Verse’ UAE Ban Over Trans Flag Sparks Uproar


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has faced swift backlash for banning Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse over a transgender flag.

The Gulf nation was one of many countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, to remove the animated Sony film from its planned theatrical release. Other countries to no longer advertise the film include Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.

The follow-up to 2018’s Oscar winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the film was set to open in the UAE on June 22 during the Eid Al-Adha holiday, according to local media.

‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ has been banned in the UAE and other Gulf nations. A transgender flag briefly appears in one scene.
Sony Pictures

It reportedly didn’t pass censorship laws because of a transgender flag that briefly appeared in one scene. The film had been advertised as “coming soon” to one of the country’s biggest cinema chains, Vox, as recently as Sunday, but movie fans noticed it then no longer appeared on its social media or website.

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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse introduces a range of new Spider-People, including Gwen Stacy voiced by Hailee Steinfeld.

Eagle-eyed fans noticed Spider-Gwen has a sign in her room that reads “protect trans kids,” in a blink and you’ll miss it moment. It isn’t confirmed if her character is transgender, but the sign could be there in solidarity of the transgender community.

LGBTQ activities are illegal in the UAE and transgenderism is banned there. Some of the legal sanctions include the death penalty, life in prison, corporal punishment, fines and conversion therapies, according to Equaldex, an online resource documenting LGBTQ rights around the world.

Newsweek contacted the UAE government to confirm the reason why the film has been censored.

The UAE sets its national guidelines for prohibited media content and some things listed in guidelines include to not offend Islamic beliefs, to respect the culture and heritage of the UAE and to not publish materials “that are in violation of public morals or may confuse the public.”

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The country’s Media Council tweeted on Monday that it “will not allow the circulation or publication of content contrary to the values and principles of the UAE and the standards of media content in force in the country,” but it didn’t mention if that statement was related to the new Spider-Man film.

It isn’t the first the UAE has banned a Hollywood animated film for its LGBTQ content. Last year, it did not allow the Disney film Lightyear to screen there over a same-sex kiss.

People on social media were divided about the ban.

“It’s their country they can do whatever they want,” wrote one person on Twitter.

Another shared a different view: “imagine banning a 10/10 movie because of one frame.”

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And a third added: “This is some b******.”

Published: 2023-06-15 16:08:25

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