Egypt bans gay film from festival

Censors of the Cairo International Film Festival have banned a gay themed film from being screened in this year's festival 

Egypt bans gay film from festival
06 September 2012

The censorship committee of the 35th Cairo International Film Festival has rejected three of the 60 films it has reviewed so far, one of them dealt with a gay theme.

Of the two other films were censored, one dealt with the theme of adultery, while the other had scenes of sex and nudity.

The titles or directors of the films were not disclosed in the report published yesterday (5 September) by Al-Ahram.

During previous festivals, the censorship committee accepted films containing nudity and sex but restricted viewing to critics and journalists.

The 35th Cairo International Film Festival is one of the most important cinematic events in the Arab world and is set to take place in late November this year.

Homosexuality is technically not illegal in Egypt but other charges have been consistently used, usually to do with public order and morals, to imprison and harass the Egyptian LGBT community. Explicit gay issues in Egyptian media are routinely censored.

So far, in post-revolutionary Egypt, despite the ruling Muslim Brotherhood’s embrace of democracy, there has been no indication that the state would ease persecution of the country’s LGBT community, let alone related legislative reform.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Ali, a 23-year-old law student from Cairo said: ‘I could not find enough information yet on the films censored and why.

‘I do find it worrying that there seems to be a change of procedure in the film festival, I hope this doesn’t have to do with the new government – if it does it may signal a turn for the worse.’

Mohamed Abdelkhalek, a 28 year-old student from Egypt and an occasional contributor to GSN commented on the news: ‘To be honest, I am not surprised. Unfortunately, it is to be expected that there will be a lot of censorship regarding any sexual themes in the media. The current government is religious and does not include politicians with liberal mindsets.

‘To add to that, the new human rights council includes many religious people from the Muslim brotherhood and Salafist parties.

‘Even though, as an Egyptian, I am happy with some of the decisions made by the new government, such as improvement to the economy and some of the external affairs, I can see a huge problem for liberal people.

‘In regards to homosexuality, I can see no hope under the current government or any kind of improvement. Quite the opposite, I fear that they may legislate against, and continue to persecute LGBT people (like during the Mubarak years).’

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