Lebanon approves 'Barbie' film for release after bid to ban it

FILE PHOTO: Barbie toys are on display for sale at a toy store in Beirut

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon on Friday approved the "Barbie" film to be screened in cinemas following an initial attempt to ban it by its culture minister over claims it contradicts conservative values.

Lebanon's General Security agency, which is responsible for reviewing any films, plays or books to be released in Lebanon, issued a decision on Friday allowing the film's screening, according to a copy of the decision seen by Reuters.

The only condition listed was that viewers be restricted to those aged 13 and above.

Last month, Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada asked the interior ministry to ban the film, saying it had been found to "promote homosexuality and sexual transformation" and "contradicts values of faith and morality" by diminishing the importance of the family unit.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi in turn asked General Security's censorship committee to review the film and give its recommendation.

Kuwait has banned "Barbie" and supernatural horror film "Talk to Me" to protect "public ethics and social traditions", the state news agency said last month.

Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken, the movie sends Mattel Inc's Barbie doll on an adventure into the real world. The film has topped $1 billion in box office ticket sales worldwide since its July 21 debut.

Lebanon has traditionally served as a beacon of free expression in the region but cases of censorship have been ramping up.

Last week, Lebanese comedian Nour Hajjar was questioned for hours over a joke about the Lebanese army and was briefly detained days later over another joke involving a Muslim sheikh.

(Reporting by Maya Gebeily; Editing by Nick Macfie)