'UAE government pressure' sees Amazon restrict sales of 'LGBTQ products'

'UAE government pressure' sees Amazon restrict sales of 'LGBTQ products'
2 min read
30 June, 2022
Amazon has restricted the sale of LGBTQ products in the UAE following 'government pressure' as Pride Month comes to a close, stating they 'must comply' with local laws and regulations.
The tech giant blocked over 150 LGBTQ-related search terms in te UAE [Getty]

Amazon has restricted the sale of LGBTQ-related products on its website in the UAE following "government pressure", according to reports on Wednesday.

The tech giant blocked over 150 LGBTQ-related search terms alongside the sales of items including Pride flags and books, after the UAE gave Amazon until Friday to adhere to its demands, according to company documents seen by The New York Times.

The UAE is classified by UK LGBTQ Charity Stonewall as a Zone 3 country, which means "sexual acts between people of the same sex are illegal".

The move comes as Pride Month, dedicated to empowering the LGBTQ community, comes to a close on 30 June,

Activists have criticised Amazon for allegedly prioritising business over human rights.

"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.

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

It was not clear what penalties the online retail giant would face from the UAE government if it did not comply with the request.

Search terms hidden by the tech giant include 'LGBTQ', 'Pride', 'Closeted Gay', and more specific searches including 'transgender flag' and 'LGBTQ iPhone case', the newspaper revealed.

Book titles that were blocked also include "My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness" by Nagata Kabi, "Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe, and Roxane Gay's "Bad Feminist".

One pro-LGBTQ social media user stated the move was an "absolute disgrace", calling on Amazon to withdraw its services from the UAE entirely.

Earlier this month the UAE retracted an issue of a children's magazine alleging that it promoted homosexuality.

The UAE also announced it would not be screening Pixar's animated children's feature Lightyear, which contains a lesbian kiss between two female characters.

Most Arab countries criminalise same-sex relations, and there have been reports of detention and invasive searches of homosexuals in many countries in the MENA region in recent years.