Oscar nominated gay film banned in Tunisia

Call Me By Your Name

The distributor of the Oscar nominated Call Me By Your Name says that the acclaimed film has been banned in Tunisia because of its gay storyline.

According to AFP, Lassaad Goubantini – who distributes major titles in the country – claims that the culture ministry has refused to give him a permit to screen the film.

He described the decision as an unconstitutional “attack on liberties” and said it was based on “the subject of the film”.

Call Me By Your Name was meant to have been shown in Tunisia on Wednesday night, but the screening had to be cancelled.

“We filed an application for authorisation with the ministry of culture. We even proposed a viewing in exceptional circumstances before the screening to know if it would go ahead or not, (but) we were refused a permit,” Goubantini said.

Call Me By Your Name has received wide critical praise but has also come under fire by some for its depiction of a love affair between a 17-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man.

The film is a coming of age story about a teenager spending the summer in Italy, who falls in love with an American academic.

It has received four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. It was also nominated for Actor in a Leading Role (Timothée Chalamet), Adapted Screenplay (James Ivory) and Original Song (Mystery of Love, by Sufjan Stevens).

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are illegal in Tunisia, with a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Last year, two young men were beaten, subjected to forced anal exams and sentenced to eight months in prison after they were arrested for simply “looking gay”.

In a March 2016 report, Human Rights Watch documented the abuse of gay men and men perceived to be homosexual by Tunisia’s police. Victims claimed that officers had subjected them to beatings, forced examinations, and routine humiliating treatment.

In a positive move, the North African country told the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017 that it would stop carrying out forced anal exams for “evidence” of homosexual conduct. Tunisia has rejected, however, calls for it to decriminalise homosexuality.

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