Amazon is ending this Pride season on a very sour note…
The e-commerce giant has succumbed to pressure from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to censor certain searches and keywords related to LGBTQ+ products and books. For context, homosexuality is criminalized in the United Arab Emirates.
According to a report from The New York Times, the UAE government gave Amazon until Friday, July 1 to comply with these restrictions under the threat of certain penalties. The NYT report read:
“Amazon had its Restricted Products team take steps to remove individual product listings, and a team that manages the company’s search abilities hid the results for more than 150 keywords. The targeted search terms ranged widely. Some were broad, such as ‘lgbtq,’ ‘pride,’ and ‘closeted gay,’ while others indicated intentional product searches, including ‘transgender flag,’ ‘queer brooch,’ ‘chest binder for lesbians,’ and ‘lgbtq iphone case.’ All of those terms returned ‘no results’ when The Times tried queries on Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Certain LGBTQ+ books have also been blocked from showing up on Amazon at all if a search is conducted from the UAE, such as Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Nagata Kabi.
A spokesperson for Amazon issued the following statement:
“With Amazon stores around the world, we must also comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate.”
It should be noted that Hollywood studios have also been asked time and time again to censor many of their films and TV shows in the United Arab Emirates, including Disney, Netflix, and other companies. Most times, these studios have complied with those restrictions, which have ranged from editing out certain scenes or banning a project from being released in the UAE altogether.