Netflix threatened with legal action amid Gulf nations’ crackdown on LGBTQ+ content

Netflix threatened with legal action 'over gay content' by Gulf nations

A group of Gulf nations has threatened Netflix with legal action if it continues to stream material that “contradicts Islamic and societal values”.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – gave a joint statement with Saudi Arabia’s media regulator.

The council said it had contacted Netflix “in light of the recent observation that the platform was broadcasting visual material and content which violates content controls in GCC countries”.

“(The content) violates Islamic and societal values and principles. As such, the platform was contacted to remove this content, including content directed at children, and to ensure adherence to the laws,” the council said, per Arab News.

A statement added that authorities “will follow up on the platform’s compliance with the directives, and in the event that the infringing content continues to be broadcast, the necessary legal measures will be taken.”

It referred to content that “violates Islamic and societal values and principles” including content “directed at children”.

While did not mention any specific content in its threat, it appears to be referencing LGBTQ+ movies and TV shows hosted by the streaming platform.

A report by Saudi state-run new channel, Al-Ekhbariya, on the threat referenced “movies and series for children with scenes promoting homosexuality under a dramatic cover via Netflix”, The Guardian has reported.

‘We’re not going to cut out anything’

This is not the first time that Gulf countries have clashed with film distributors, including Netflix and Disney, over LGBTQ+ content.

Disney-Pixar’s Lightyear, the 2022 spin-off from the Toy Story franchise, was banned in 14 different countries, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Lebanon, following the re-inclusion of a same-sex kiss into the movie.

Film producer Galyn Susman said in an interview with Reuters that the move was “frustrating” but that the distributer will not stop making LGBTQ+ content due to bans.

“We’re not going to cut out anything, especially something as important as the loving and inspirational relationship that shows Buzz what he’s missing,” Susman said.

“It’s great that we are part of something that’s making steps forward in the social inclusion capacity, but it’s frustrating that there are still places that aren’t where they should be.”

A Disney remake of West Side Story was also banned in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations due to the inclusion of a trans character, played by non-binary actor Iris Menas.

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed at the time that Steven Spielberg’s musical adaptation would not screen in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman or Kuwait due to Disney refusing to cut the character.

Homosexuality is illegal across many Gulf countries, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates known to have issued corporal punishment and even death for same-sex relationships.

PinkNews has contacted Netflix for comment.