The Cameroonian Ministry of Arts and Culture under Bidoun Kpwatt Pierre has banned the popular American fantasy comedy film “Barbie”, directed by Greta Gerwig.
Movie trade publication Box Office Pro claims that the ban was announced orally by the Ministry of Arts and Culture’s (Minac) Department of Cinematography and Audiovisual Productions on Tuesday, August 22, 2023, ordering all theaters in the country to pull the film from their schedules.
According to them, the ministry said that the movie contains homosexual and ‘obscene’ scenes that are not suitable for Cameroonian society. No cinema anywhere in Cameroon is allowed to broadcast it.
“This decision comes after the procedure to obtain an exploitation visa for the broadcast of the film, witnessed no opposition. The movie was watched and its broadcast was approved some days before its official outing,” Box Office Pro wrote on its website.
Cameroon has joined nations such as Lebanon, Kuwait, and Algeria in their outlawing this film on the grounds of homosexuality.
Cameroon has a long history of standing against the LGBTQ community and prohibiting the rights of people who have these sexual preferences.
Recently, Cameroon forbade the visit of Jean-Marc Berthon, a French ambassador for LGBTQ+ rights who planned to promote LGBTQ+ activities in Cameroon, in June 2023.
Recent warnings against the airing of films endorsing homosexuality were sent by the National Communication Council through its president, Joseph Chebongkeng Kalabubsu.
The Cameroonian government has not released any details about the specific scenes that have been banned. However, there have been reports that the movie includes a same-sex kiss between two of the characters.
The ban on “Barbie” is the latest in a series of decisions by the Cameroonian government to restrict access to foreign content. In recent months, the government has been keen on TV programmes in Cameroon. Recently, Canal + and other channels stopped broadcasting gay content.
The government is trying so hard to restrict the rights and freedoms of people identifying as LGBTQ+ in Cameroon, whose penal code criminalises homosexuality.
The ban on “Barbie” is likely to further polarise public opinion in Cameroon. Some people will support the government’s decision, while others will see it as an attack on freedom of expression.
@washira_helene contributed to this story.