Punjab govt decides to retain ban on queer-themed movie Joyland

Decision comes despite the fact the film obtained clearance from federal govt
<p>Photo: File</p>

Photo: File

Contrary to the decision made by the federal government after an exhaustive review, the Punjab government on Thursday decided to retain its ban on the public display of the award-winning, queer-themed movie, Joyland.

The announcement came merely hours before the movie was due to be screened in the province.

In a notification issued by the Punjab Information and Culture Department on Thursday and available with SAMAA TV, the provincial government decided to retain the ban on the movie.

“The government of Punjab, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 9 (1&2) Motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979 and rules made thereunder has decided to recall the movie “Joyland” in the wake of complaints received from different headquarters,” the notice read.

It added that till further orders from the Punjab government, the movie will remain censored and kept off screens in Punjab.

Joyland was scheduled to be released in cinemas nationwide on November 18.

The release, however, has been far from smooth.

Even though the film had obtained clearance from censors in August, its certificate was pulled by the federal information and broadcasting ministry just a week from release after complaints received about the movie from different segments, including a senator who has had a history of being vocal about issues pertaining to people who are transgender.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed had claimed the movie contained highly objectional material and focused on a theme which was in contrast to Pakistani culture, social norms and morals.

It was unclear what were Senator Ahmed’s comments based on and if he had been privy to a screening of the movie or not.

Subsequently, the federal government termed the movie “Uncertified”.

However, severe outcry on media prompted the government to review the sudden move.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif constituted an eight-member committee to review the decision of the information ministry.

On Tuesday, the eight-member committee met in Islamabad to evaluate the complaints received against the queer-themed movie.

The committee, after deliberations and proper review, cleared the movie for release across Pakistan.

SAPM Salman Sufi on Wednesday shared this in a tweet after the board scrutinized the movie’s content despite opposition from different factions of society.

He said, “Freedom of speech is fundamental right & should be nourished within ambits of the law.”

However, in the latest development, after receiving clearance from the federal government, the govt of Punjab on Thursday, just a day before its release, has censored the movie in the jurisdiction of Punjab till further orders.


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