Rainbow-colored toys and clothing have been seized in Saudi Arabia for allegedly promoting homosexuality just weeks ahead of a planned visit by President Joe Biden.
The crackdown on Pride Month items was cited by Saudi outlet al-Ekhbariya regarding a statement by the Ministry of Commerce.
“We are having to look out for slogans that violate the rules of Islam and public morals like promoting homosexuality [sic] colors, targeting the young generation,” an official from the Ministry of Commerce said.
The seizures also included school supplies such as pencils, crayons, packages, and backpacks, according to the report. According to CNN, it is not known how many establishments were targeted, or how many items have been confiscated.
The actions occurred as homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
The move also follows the recent ban of the Pixar film “Lightyear” in Saudi Arabia. “Lightyear” was banned “due to its violation of the country’s media content standards,” the country’s media regulator said in a tweet, not specifying which standard had been violated. Industry insiders speculate it’s because of the kiss between two female characters.
— UAE Forsan (@UAE_Forsan) June 13, 2022
Marvel films “Doctor Strange” and “Eternals” were also banned in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East for similar reasons related to LGBT themes.
The reported seizure of rainbow items also comes as Biden prepares for a July trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, confirmed on Tuesday.
“The trip, to begin on July 13, will start in Israel where Biden will meet with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and reinforce his support for a two-state solution there, according to an administration statement early Tuesday morning,” U.S. News and World Report noted.
“Biden will then travel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council along with leaders from Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. There, the president is expected to focus on finding solutions to staggeringly high gas prices in the U.S. that have emboldened Republicans vying to take control of the House and the Senate in the fall,” it added.
The LGBT-related controversy adds to concerns from members of Congress that Biden plans to meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman after his reported involvement in the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
The White House report regarding Biden’s upcoming trip stated that the president will discuss “means for expanding regional economic and security cooperation, including new and promising infrastructure and climate initiatives, as well as deterring threats from Iran, advancing human rights, and ensuring global energy and food security.” The discussion will also include oil production as the nation seeks relief from record gas prices under the Biden administration.
John Kirby, former Defense Department spokesman, now serving with the National Security Council (NSC), also told CNN on June 8 that Biden plans to address some problematic issues between the two nations.
“I can tell you that the president is going to be completely unafraid to have honest, candid discussions with leaders around the world, with those with whom we agree on almost everything and those where we have differences,” Kirby said.
“It’s important for him to be willing and able to meet with leaders all across the world, no matter who they are or who they represent, if, in fact, it’s going to improve U.S. national security interests. And, in this case, the president absolutely believes that’s the case,” he added.