Saudi Arabia allows Netflix to stream Queer Eye and Orange Is the New Black in exchange for a ‘troubling compromise’

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The CEO of Netflix has revealed that LGBT+ shows like Queer Eye and Orange Is the New Black are able to stream is Saudi Arabia because he made a “troubling compromise”.

Censorship of LGBT+ content is common, and earlier this year the Disney/Pixar animated movie Onward was banned in Saudi Arabia over a subtle reference to a lesbian relationship.

So it might seem odd that shows like Orange Is the New Black, which features many queer sex scenes, would be available on Saudi Arabian Netflix.

But, speaking to CNN, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings revealed that the company had made a “troubling compromise” for the LGBT+ content to be allowed.

In January, 2019, Netflix agreed to pull an episode of US comedian Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act from the platform in Saudi Arabia, after the Saudi government said it violated the law by criticising crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS.

Hastings said: “It was a very difficult decision. We ended up being able to keep the episode up in Saudi Arabia on YouTube, strangely, not on Netflix.

“With that, we are able to have all of our other content, like Queer Eye, Sex Education and Orange Is the New Black, available in Saudi Arabia.

“It is a troubling compromise, it is not something we approached easily or lightly. But, on balance, we think it’s a good move.”

Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia, where LGBT+ people can face imprisonment, violent punishments or even the death penalty under the country’s religious immorality laws.

Vigilante attacks are also common, while authorities are known to ‘hunt’ for gay people.

Last year, two gay Saudi journalists sought asylum in Australia over fears they would be killed in their home country.

The two men, known by pseudonyms Sultan and Nassar, were placed in a detention centre upon arrival in Australia – and were only released after a campaign led by the Australian LGBT+ community.