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Lebanon bans two films in setback for tolerant image

in LEBANON, 21/10/2013

Lebanon has banned the screening of a film about homosexuality and another on short-term "pleasure marriages" practised in some Muslim communities, in a blow to its reputation as a bastion of tolerance in a deeply conservative region.

The films, which had been due to be shown at the Beirut International Film Festival that opened last week, were blocked by a government censorship committee, festival organisers said.

Confirming the bans, an Interior Ministry spokesman cited a Lebanese news report which attributed the decision to "obscene scenes of kissing between gay men, philandering, naked men and sexual intercourse between men" in one film and "sex scenes that offend public opinion and obscene language" in the other.

Critics took to local media and the Internet over the weekend to denounce the bans but festival director Colette Naufal said they could only be overturned by the interior minister, a move she considered highly unlikely.

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