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Amazon blocks LGBTQ search results after pressure from United Arab Emirates

"We must comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate"

2022-07-01

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Unsplash

In a stunning display of allyship, Amazon has kneeled under pressure from the United Arab Emirates to limit LGBTQ-related search results and items on the site. 

Documents seen by The New York Times show the UAE government gave Jeff Bezos' company until Friday (1 July) to comply with their demands or else face penalties.

Results for more than 150 keywords were blocked by Amazon and product listings including flags and books were removed. 

Search terms including 'LGBTQ', 'Pride', and 'closeted gay' were among those targeted, as were search terms like 'transgender flag' and 'chest binder for lesbians'. 

The Times reports trying those search terms earlier this week and producing no results. 

In a statement provided to the Times and Attitude, an Amazon spokesperson said: "As a company, we remain committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we believe that the rights of L.G.B.T.Q.+ people must be protected.

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

The Times reports that Seattle Pride in the US rejected corporate support from the company, which was founded in Seattle, in part over the company's funding of anti-LGBTQ politicians. 

On the matter, Amazon has reportedly said it would make donations even if it doesn't support various positions. 

Gay sex is illegal in the UAE and punishable by fines and imprisonment, and under Shariah law, the death penalty.

In May it was revealed that Amazon had banned Shortbus, the queer cult classic for containing "offensive content".

The Attitude July/August issue is out now.