Beautiful Virgin Islands

Friday, Feb 03, 2023

Amazon blocks searches for LGBTQ+ products in the United Arab Emirates amid regional anti-homosexuality push

Amazon blocks searches for LGBTQ+ products in the United Arab Emirates amid regional anti-homosexuality push

Amazon described its decision as one made to abide by local laws.  

E-commerce giant Amazon is blocking search results for LGBTQ-related products on its United Arab Emirates website, following a series of pushbacks against same-sex themes in the Gulf region.

Amazon made the decision after coming under pressure from UAE authorities, who reportedly threatened it with penalties and gave it until Friday to comply with its demand to restrict search results for LGBTQ-themed materials. This is according to documents viewed by the New York Times, who first reported the story.

“After hearing from the Emirates, 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 Times wrote in its report. Those keywords included “lgbtq,” “pride,” “closeted gay” and “transgender flag,” among others, the report said.

A search for “LGBT” and “LGBTQ” on Amazon’s UAE site on Friday, July 1, produced no results. But searches for “pride” did produce a few rainbow-themed items like notebooks, shirts and phone cases bearing the word “pride.” Rainbow flags with no wording on them were still available.

The UAE’s Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a CNBC request for comment at the time of writing.

The news follows Pride month, which is celebrated in countries around the world but not in the religiously conservative Gulf, which is overwhelmingly Muslim. Homosexuality is criminalized in the UAE and can be punished by fines and prison time.

Amazon described its decision as one made to abide by local laws.

“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 said. 

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


Pride, ‘Lightyear’ and regional backlash


Earlier this month, the UAE announced it was banning Disney Pixar’s movie “Lightyear” from theaters for containing homosexual characters and a brief scene featuring a same-sex kiss. Numerous countries across the Middle East and South Asia did the same.

An Instagram post celebrating Pride month from the page of the U.S. embassy in the UAE in early June also drew sharp backlash from locals.


This is the second year that a U.S. diplomatic mission in any Gulf country has openly commemorated Pride month and gay rights; in 2021 the American Embassy in Abu Dhabi hoisted the rainbow Pride flag, triggering condemnation from prominent Emiratis angered by what many of them described as a lack of respect for their laws, religion and values.

The U.S. embassy in the UAE did not reply to a CNBC request for comment.


The UAE for years has worked to cast itself as a modern, tolerant haven in an otherwise highly conservative region. The oil-rich desert sheikhdom is home to a 90% expat population, and allows drinking alcohol, wearing bikinis on public beaches, and other cultural elements often forbidden in Muslim countries.

Last year the country passed a raft of modernizing reforms, including the decriminalization of premarital sex, an end to movie censorship in theaters and a shift from the Islamic weekend (Friday-Saturday) to the Saturday-Sunday weekend, in a push to be more competitive globally and attract additional foreign investment and talent.

Its nightclubs resemble those in Europe, it regularly hosts concerts of famous rappers and pop stars, and it even relaxed the penalties on some of its drug laws last year. In 2016, it established a Ministry of Tolerance.

Homosexuality, however, still remains a taboo.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands
Close
0:00
0:00
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
BVI Freedom Song
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
What is ChatGPT?
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Hello Dolly
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
Yes He Can
China's first population drop in six decades
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Unforgettable
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
The Lord's Prayer
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Siyahamba
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Ramblin' Rose
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Protoje - Who Knows ft. Chronixx
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Pressure - Virgin Islands Nice
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Phil Wickham - House Of The Lord
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
The Lion King Circle of Life by LEBO M. — LIVE at the HAVASI Symphonic
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
Louis Armstrong - When The Saints Go Marching In
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
Kanye West Sunday Service - hallelujah, salvation, and glory
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Jonathan Nelson - I Believe (Island Medley
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
From The Virgin Islands Sqad Up
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Common, John Legend - Glory
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell - If I Ain't Got You
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
BVI Freedom Song
×