Metro Weekly

Qatar bans “The Danish Girl” after complaints of “depravity”

The Danish Girl: Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne as Gerda Wegener and Lili Elbe
The Danish Girl: Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne as Gerda Wegener and Lili Elbe

Qatar has banned screenings of The Danish Girl, following complaints about its “moral depravity.”

The somewhat ironically named Ministry of Culture has banned cinemas in the Middle Eastern nation from showing the film, which stars Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. The Qatari government has outlawed any cinema from screening the film, they announced in a tweet.

“We would like to inform you that we have contacted the concerned department and the screening of the Danish film is now banned from cinemas,” they wrote. “We thank your unwavering vigilance.”

A representative of Qatar cinemas told Doha News that they had canceled all screenings of The Danish Girl. Novo Cinemas and Cineco movies had also both listed showtimes for the film prior to the government ban.

The move has sparked debate on social media, with many supporting the government’s decision under the hashtag “No to the screening of The Danish Girl.” Doha News translated several tweets from users.

“I watched the trailer of the film and it should not be screened here,” wrote Aljorry1979. “It contains enough moral depravity to go around the world.”

“No to any film that contradicts our religion, morals and traditions,” tweeted almuhra8. “We hope that the people responsible for the screening of (such) films will be held accountable.”

Some opposed the ban, with Alialmarri2116 saying there was “nothing out of the ordinary about the film,” as it tells a true story. They said the “real deviance is in the mind of those who call for it to be banned.”

Censorship is nothing new in Qatar. Wolf of Wall Street, which featured sex, cursing and drug use, had one-quarter of its runtime cut before it could be screen in the country. A 2014 survey by Northwestern University in Qatar found that eighty percent of respondents supported some form of censorship of films.

“This support for censorship and government monitoring of entertainment content is observed across all facets of the population, except, perhaps, among Western expatriates in Qatar,” the report said.

That The Danish Girl was screened at all is somewhat surprising, given Qatar’s strong opposition to LGBT issues. Same-sex sexual activity can incur fines and up to seven years in prison — though the death penalty can apply to any Muslims convicted. There are no discrimination protections enshrined in Qatari law and transgender people cannot legally change their gender.

The Danish Girl director Tom Hooper told Metro Weekly last year that he hoped his film would help influence the dialogue surrounding transgender issues.

“I really hope that it might take the general audience on a journey to open their hearts and minds up to people who’ve been marginalized for too long… that would be wonderful,” he said.

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!