NASSAU, Bahamas – A Bahamian government board's decision to ban the movie "Brokeback Mountain" has prompted charges of discrimination and censorship in the island chain.
Gay rights groups and others have called on the Plays and Films Control Board to reverse its decision prohibiting theaters from showing the award-winning movie about a troubled love affair between two cowboys.
"You have a group of people who are telling grown men and women what they can and cannot watch," said Philip Burrows, a theater director in the island chain. "I cannot understand denying people the right to make their own choices."
Theaters in Nassau, the capital, had already begun to advertise the movie Friday when the board announced its ban at the request of the Bahamas Christian Council.
"The board chose to ban it because it shows extreme homosexuality, nudity and profanity, and we feel that it has no value for the Bahamian public," Chavasse Turnquest-Liriano, liaison officer for the control board, said Wednesday.
The Rainbow Alliance, a gay rights group, called the ban a "farce," and said most Bahamians reject the idea that a "small group of appointed individuals ... can provide the moral compass for the entire country."
Some have suggested the board could have simply issued a rating that would have barred anyone under 18 from seeing the film.
Critics also noted that even some countries where homosexuality is illegal have allowed the movie to be shown in theaters.
"This is not a movie to be banned. This is not a subject to be censored," said Bahamas resident Liz Roberts, who has worked in film production. "It is a subject to be aired, a subject to be confronted openly."
"Brokeback Mountain," which won critical acclaim and three Oscars, including best director for Ang Lee, has also been banned in mainland China. Turkey has restricted viewing to viewers over 18.