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International News Highlights — November 18, 2022

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Photo by KM Chaudary / AP
Photo by KM Chaudary / AP

Pakistan PM wavers on ban of Trans film
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif of Pakistan has gone back and forth so far on banning the showing of Joyland, the country's sole Oscar entry. The film is a love story between a married man and a Trans woman, and was flagged by state censorship officials as "uncertified."

Salman Sufi, an advisor to Sharif, has revealed that the ban isn't final, however, since a high-level committee is being assembled to assess the film more thoroughly.

"Art is the best form for it, rather than blockages of roads or protesting," Sufi said. Marginalized communities deserve a voice, like everyone else, including politicians, he added.

Director Saim Sadiq railed against the whole affair. "The Pakistani constitution gives all provinces the autonomy to make their own decisions," he said. "Yet the ministry suddenly caved under pressure from a few extremist factions — who have not seen the film — and made a mockery of our federal censor board by rendering their decision irrelevent."

New Israeli government prompts "discourse of fear," activists say
Israel's expected new coalition has the country's liberal citizens in fear for the future of the progressive policies made by the last one — the most diverse in Israel's history. The next government is likely to be profoundly male, religious, and conservative, and may roll back progress made on issues pertaining to the environment, LGBTQ people, and the country's Arab minority.

The items at risk include a tax on single-use plastics, policies sympathetic to LGBT Israelis, and more generous budgets for Arab communities that have been long been underserved.

The former coalition collapsed after a little over a year, over disagreements on the legal system in the occupied West Bank, though its policies on the subject weren't significantly different from past governments.

"In the last government... the public discourse was one of rights and equality and ending discrimination," said Hila Peer, chair of the Aguda (Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel). Now, though, they are hearing "a discourse of fear."

Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu, who will head the new coalition government, has assured the public there's nothing to fear.

"We will not permit anyone to be harmed, not their fundamental rights or personal freedoms," said Miki Zohar, a senior Likud lawmaker close to Netanyahu.

"Large parts of the nation will feel that they have no connection to or influence in the incoming government," said Israel Democracy Institute member Assaf Shapira, on the lack of representation of some segments of the political spectrum.