Netflix: Gulf States Demand Removal of ‘Offensive’ Content

The Gulf Arab countries didn't name the programmes in question, but said they 'contradict Islamic values.' Saudi state TV has aired an interview describing Netflix as being as 'official sponsor of homosexuality.'

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Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Tuesday asked Netflix to remove “offensive content” on the streaming platform.

The Council members said in a joint statement that the unspecified content “contradicts Islamic and societal values and principles” and threatened legal action against Netflix if it was not removed.

The statement also said that Netflix was broadcasting content that violated media content regulations in force in the Gulf countries.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE published the statement on their own government channels as well. Netflix, based in California, is yet to respond to the statement.

The GCC is a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Omar and Qatar.

Saudi state television airs video condemning same-sex relationships

A Saudi state television channel on Tuesday aired an interview with a woman, identified as a “behavioral consultant,” who described Netflix as being as “official sponsor of homosexuality.”

At the same time, it also aired footage of a cartoon show with two women embracing, though the portion was blurred out.

Saudi state television also aired a segment suggesting Netflix could be banned if the programme reached children.

In the joint statement, GCC countries asked Netflix to remove some of its content for children too.

Demands to remove LGBTQ content

Even though it is only speculation that LGBTQ content was asked to be pulled, several Middle Eastern countries have previously specifically asked companies to remove scenes where gays and lesbians are kissing.

In June, several Middle Eastern and Asian countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Malaysia banned Disney’s animated feature film Lightyear from screening in cinemas because it featured characters in a same-sex relationship and because that went against media regulatory standards in those countries.

After that, Disney+ streaming service said its content should “align with local regulatory requirements” in Gulf countries.

Homosexuality is considered criminal in many Middle Eastern countries, with Iran reportedly sentencing two LGBTQ activists to death on charges of “human trafficking” on Monday.

In 2019, Netflix removed from its streaming service in Saudi Arabia an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj because it was critical of the kingdom.

This article was originally published on DW.