LGBTQ-related products will no longer be listed on Amazon’s website in the United Arab Emirates.
In a report by The New York Times, the Emirati government has threatened to penalize Amazon if it does not remove products that are related to LGBTQ issues by Friday. Over 150 keywords have been restricted and individual product listings have been pulled.
Consensual same-sex relationships are criminalized in the UAE, and punishments may include imprisonment and even death.
Although some of the terms which were restricted by the website could cover most items, such as “lgbtq,” “pride,” and “closeted gay,” others were targeted, including “transgender flag,” “chest binder for lesbians,” and “lgbtq iphone case,” which produced no results.
Several books were also blocked in the region by Amazon. Two of the affected titles are Nagata Kabi’s My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness and Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.
In order to keep operating in a region, Amazon has given in to the demands of a restrictive government.
Apple reportedly gave the Chinese government control of some of its data centers in China, while Netflix previously pulled a show critical of the Saudi government. A censored Chinese search engine called Project Dragonfly was once developed by Google, but it was discontinued in 2019.
The likelihood of Amazon removing an item from its product listings outside of regions with restrictive laws is much lower.
As a bookseller, Amazon has “chosen to offer a very broad range of viewpoints, including books that conflict with company values and corporate positions,” according to employees in Seattle who asked the company to remove the books.