Amazon bows to UAE pressure to restrict LGBTQ+ search results

Amazon has bowed to pressure from the United Arab Emirates and restricted search results for LGBTQ+-related products such as books and rainbow-coloured flags on its website in the country.

The company decided to restrict the searches after being threatened with penalties by the UAE government, according to the New York Times which first reported the story.

The news comes as Pride month, designed to celebrate LGBTQ+ people around the world every year, comes to an end.

Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE, one of 69 countries in the world that have laws that criminalise being gay.

“As a company, we remain committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we believe that the rights of LGBTQ+ people must be protected,” an Amazon spokesperson told the BBC.

However, they added: “With Amazon stores around the world, we must also comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate.”

Earlier this month, authorities in Saudi Arabia seized rainbow-coloured toys and children’s clothing, which they claimed encourage homosexuality, according to state TV Al Ekhbariya. It said commerce ministry officials removed a range of items from shops in the capital, Riyadh, including hats, skirts, T-shirts, hair clips and pencil cases.

Saudi Arabia has also banned films that depict, or even refer to, sexual minorities. In April, the kingdom said it had asked Disney to cut “LGBTQ references” from the Marvel film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but Disney refused.

Disney’s latest animation, Lightyear, which features a same-sex kiss, has also been banned in Saudi Arabia and more than a dozen other countries.

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Amazon bows to UAE pressure to restrict LGBTQ+ search results