West Side Story Banned In Two Countries

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West Side Story Banned in Two Countries - Lifestyle Pictures/ PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/20th Century Studios/AlamyLifestyle Pictures/PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/20th Century Studios/Alamy

Ahead of its release later this month, two countries have already banned Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story

So far, the live-action film hasn’t been granted a release certificate in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, meaning that residents won’t be able to view Spielberg’s adaptation of the musical classic, with lyrics originally written by Stephen Sondheim.


Moreover, a series of other countries have reportedly requested certain cuts be made to the movie.

West Side Story Banned in Two Countries - 20th Century Studios 20th Century Studios

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will not show the 2021 release of West Side Story, and have given no exact reason for their banning of the film, The Wrap reports, thought it has been suggested it is because of the inclusion of an LGBTQ+ characte.

In addition, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are also said to have asked Disney and 20th Century Studios to cut parts of the film, according to an insider.


However, the entertainment companies refused and ruled that the film would simply not be released in those specific locations. West Side Story will still be released to other nations within the Middle East.

While unconfirmed as to exactly why Saudi Arabia and Kuwait banned the West Side Story remake, the film’s inclusion of a nonbinary actor has been reported as possibly being a contributing factor.

In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is officially illegal and the country has previously banned films for including LGBTQ+ representations, such as Marvel’s Eternals.


In the new version of West Side Story, non-binary actor Iris Menas plays Anybodys, who has been written as transgender or nonbinary.

West Side Story Banned in Two Countries - 20th Century Studios20th Century Studios

The film was meant to be released on December 9 in Saudi Arabia, but will no longer be shown.

West Side Story will be in cinemas in the US and the UK on December 10.


If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers

Topics: Film and TV, LGBTQ+, Saudi Arabia


New York Post and 1 other
  1. New York Post

    ‘West Side Story’ banned in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait due to LGBTQ character

  2. The Wrap

    ‘West Side Story’ Banned in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Over LGBTQ Character Played by Nonbinary Actor

Poppy Bilderbeck
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