Arab Countries Pressure Netflix To Remove Gay Content

(Photo credit should read JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which represents Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE among others, demanded that Netflix remove content that violated “Islamic and societal values,” which Saudi state media implied could include LGBTQ content.

While the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), a Saudi-based media watchdog for the GCC, did not specify the nature of the content in question, it mentioned that some was targeted at children and that failure to comply would result in legal action, Reuters reported. Saudi state-run TV outlet Al Ekhbariya, discussing the announcement, accused Netflix of “promoting homosexuality by focusing excessively on homosexuals,” the BBC reported.

“All legal measures will be taken to protect [Saudi Arabia’s] sovereignty, citizens and residents from any intellectual attack aimed at affecting its societies, values, safety of upbringing their generations and protecting them from harmful content,” Esra Assery, CEO of GCAM, told Arab News, an English-language Saudi news outlet with ties to the Saudi government.

Under Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, consensual homosexual conduct is punishable by either death or flogging, with the punishment varying according to the perceived severity of the case, the BBC reported.

Content from the children’s show Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, featured heavily in an Al Ekhbariya segment on the issue, blurring instances of two teenage girls kissing and confessing their love to one another, according to BBC. The show, which has five seasons and is billed on Netflix as an “Exciting” children’s show, is part of Netflix’s “Representation Matters Collection.”

The Netflix-original film Cuties, which also came under fire in the West for allegations of content that sexualized children, was also criticized by Al Ekhbariya, the BBC reported. Footage from the film was shown with a caption that accused Netflix of being “cinematic cover for immoral messages that threaten the healthy upbringing of children,” according to the BBC.

GCAM’s announcement came “in light of the recent observation that the platform was broadcasting visual material and content which violates content controls in GCC countries,” the group said in a statement, according to Arab News.

Saudi Arabian cinemas did not carry the recent Marvel Studios film “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” after Disney refused to cut “LGBTQ references” at the behest of Saudi regulators, according to the BBC. Disney-Pixar’s animated children’s film “Lightyear” was similarly refused screening in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states because it featured a same-sex relationship, according to Reuters.

A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment.

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