Saudi authorities seize rainbow toys in crackdown on homosexuality | Saudi Arabia

Saudi authorities have seized rainbow-colored toys and clothes from shops in the capital as part of a crackdown on homosexuality, state media reported.

The kingdom opened up to tourism in 2019 but, like other Gulf countries, is frequently criticized for its human rights record, including its ban on homosexuality, a potential capital crime.

Items targeted in the raids in Riyadh include bows, skirts, hats and pencil cases, most made for children, according to a report aired Tuesday evening by the public news channel Al Ekhbariya.

“We circle around articles that contradict Islamic faith and public morals and promote gay colors targeting the younger generation,” a Commerce Ministry official involved in the campaign said in the report.

A few items seized. Photograph: Saudi Ministry of Commerce

Pointing to a rainbow flag, a journalist adds: “The flag of homosexuality is present in one of the markets of Riyadh. Colors send a “poisonous message” to children.

The report did not specify the number of stores targeted or items seized, and Saudi officials did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The Rainbow Raids come as Saudi Arabia has banned films that depict or even reference sexual minorities. In April, the kingdom said it asked Disney to remove “LGBTQ references” from the Marvel film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but Disney refused.

Saudi regulators objected to a 12-second scene in which a character refers to his “two moms”. An official said at the time that the government was trying to work with Disney to find a solution, but ultimately the film was not shown in Saudi cinemas.

Tuesday’s report showed stills of Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange and “seemingly alien children waving rainbow flags.”

Disney’s latest animation, Lightyear, which features a gay kiss, has also been banned in Saudi Arabia and more than a dozen other countries, according to a source close to Disney.

Riyadh has not commented on this film but it did not appear in the lists of major cinemas.

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Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on all cinemas for decades at the end of 2017, as part of a social overhaul led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that is rocking the conservative kingdom.

The country has since seen significant growth in movie ticket sales, with revenue totaling $238 million in 2021, a 95% increase from the previous year, according to a report by Variety magazine in January.

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