Pakistan reverses course, bans ‘Joyland’ from cinemas

According to a government official, Pakistan has reversed an earlier decision to allow the Oscar entry “Joyland” to be viewed in theaters and has banned it.

The film, which tells the story of a married man’s love for a transgender woman, is Pakistan’s submission for the Academy Awards in 2019 and won an award at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

The director of “Joyland,” Saim Sadiq, denounced the government action as “unconstitutional and illegal” in a statement released late Sunday night.

In Pakistan, which has a Muslim majority and where there has been some progress on transgender rights, the on-screen connection between two characters has incensed some conservatives for weeks. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court recognized that transgender people identify as neither men nor women and as a third gender. The goal of the law is to safeguard transgender people’s rights.

The movie is “uncertified,” according to Mobashir Hasan, the principal information officer for the government of Pakistan, and cannot be shown at theaters that fall under the purview of a central censor board. Although the movie had previously received approval from all three of the nation’s film censor boards, he did not explain why it had lost its certification and just stated that a 1979 decree allowed for the decision to be reversed.