Pakistan. Ban on film Joyland which features a transgender character must immediately be reversed

Reacting to the Pakistani government’s recent ban on the film Joyland, which has won awards abroad and which features a transgender character, and to the indecision of the Review Board which today did not rule on whether or not to cancel this ban, Nadia Rahman, researcher and gender adviser at Amnesty International, said:

“This is the latest manifestation of a trend of censorship and repression of freedom of expression observed in Pakistan. The film ban joyland comes in a context where the right to freedom of expression and the already very limited rights of transgender people are increasingly under threat in the country. We hope that this disappointing decision removing the theatrical release in Pakistan of this film will be immediately reversed, and that steps will be taken to loosen the grip on what people are allowed to read, watch, say and to do.

The film ban joyland comes in a context where the right to freedom of expression and the already very limited rights of transgender people are increasingly under threat in the country

Nadia Rahman, gender researcher and adviser at Amnesty International

“Freedom of expression and artistic creation is key to telling stories about the lives of local people and the challenges they face, especially when it comes to marginalized people. Transgender people in Pakistan still lack access to essential services, and face constant harassment, stigma and violence. There is currently a concerted movement to curtail the rights that the Transgender Persons Act has granted them, as well as a smear campaign that is fueling stigma and violence against transgender people, putting them at risk.

“With this text, Pakistan had one of the most progressive laws in the world on the rights of transgender people. This text allowed Pakistan to defend the rights of people who are among the most marginalized populations and who are of historical and cultural importance in South Asia and throughout the world. But this persistent and deep-rooted backlash against them being able to live in society on an equal footing with other people is fueling the rise of violence and discrimination against transgender people in Pakistan. »

Freedom of expression and artistic creation is key to telling stories about the lives of local people and the challenges they face

Nadia Rahman

Additional information

joyland is the first Pakistani feature film presented at Cannes in the official selection, and it won the prestigious Jury Prize.

On November 11, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting canceled the film’s theatrical release, citing “highly questionable content” depicting the relationship between a transgender man and woman.

On November 14, the Prime Minister set up an eight-member review commission to examine complaints against the film.

On November 15, this commission issued a press release stating that the Central Committee of Film Censors should conduct “immediately a full committee review” to decide on the suitability or otherwise of the screening of the film. joyland.

Last year (between October 2021 and September 2022) 18 transgender people were reportedly killed in Pakistan, the highest figure in all of Asia. In a recent report titled Pandemic or not, we have the right to liveAmnesty International reports on cases of discrimination, violence and marginalization against transgender people in 15 countries, including Pakistan, and these abuses intensified at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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