Call Me By Your Name has received universal critical acclaim in the U.S., and the film might even walk away with some Oscars this weekend—but the movie is not having the same warm welcome in other parts of the world.
A screening of the film was scheduled at a movie theater in Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, on Wednesday, February 28, but the Tunisian Ministry of Culture forced the theater to cancel the event.
According to the theater’s Facebook page, the screening was canceled because the film has been banned by the government.
Lassaad Goubantini, the distributor for Call Me By Your Name, said the cancelation was an “attack on liberties” motivated by the “subject of the film.”
“We filed an application for authorisation with the ministry of culture,” said Goubantini.
“We even proposed a viewing in exceptional circumstances before the screening to know if it would go ahead or not, (but) we were refused a permit.”
He added that the ban is “contrary to the Tunisian constitution.”
Article 230 of the Tunisian penal code criminalizes homosexuality, punishable by up to three years in prison. In 2016, two gay men were arrested on suspicion of same-sex activity, forced to undergo anal examinations, and sentenced to eight months in prison. Others have been convicted simply for acting feminine under Article 226, which forbids “assaulting public decency with an obscene attitude.”
Samir Dilou, Tunisia’s human rights minister, insists the concept of sexual orientation “is specific to the West” and that homosexuals need to be “treated medically.” Dilou also attacked Gayday magazine, Tunisia’s first (and only) gay publications claiming “freedom of speech has its limits.”
Hopefully Tunisians will be able to witness Elio and Oliver’s love story at another screening in the future.