Saudi seizes rainbow toys in 'homosexuality' crackdown

Riyadh (AFP) – Saudi officials are seizing rainbow-coloured toys and articles of clothing from shops in the capital as part of a crackdown on homosexuality, state media reported.

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Targeted items include rainbow-coloured bows, skirts, hats and pencil cases, most of them apparently manufactured for young children, according to a report broadcast Tuesday evening by the state-run Al-Ekhbariya news channel.

"We are giving a tour of the items that contradict the Islamic faith and public morals and promote homosexual colours targeting the younger generation," says an official from the commerce ministry, which is involved in the campaign.

Gesturing towards a rainbow flag, a journalist says: "The homosexuality flag is present in one of the Riyadh markets."

The colours send a "poisoned message" to children, the report says.

Homosexuality is a potential capital offence in Saudi Arabia, known for its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law which forms the basis of its entire judicial system.

In April, the kingdom said it had asked Disney to cut "LGBTQ references" from "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness", the latest Marvel movie, but that Disney had refused.

The film ultimately did not screen in Saudi cinemas.

Disney's latest animation "Lightyear," which features a same-sex kiss, has also been banned in Saudi Arabia and more than a dozen other countries, a source close to Disney told AFP Tuesday, though Riyadh has not commented on that film.

Tuesday's Al-Ekhbariya report also showed stills of Benedict Cumberbatch in "Doctor Strange" and of apparently foreign children waving rainbow flags.

The report did not detail how many establishments were targeted or items seized in the commerce ministry operation, and Saudi officials did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment Wednesday.