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Amazon restricts LGBTQ+ search results in UAE after government pressure

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Amazon has given into pressure from the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and restricted LGBTQ+ items and search results there.

The company was given until 1 July to comply or face penalties, according to documents seen by The New York Times. Exactly what these penalties would be remains unclear, but items including rainbow-coloured flags and books with LGBTQ+ themes have now been hidden or restricted on Amazon’s website in the country.

Certain search terms were targeted by the Restricted Products team in order to bring customers to a ‘no results’ page. Among these were “lgbtq,” “chest binder for lesbians,” “pride,” “queer brooch” and “lgbtq iphone case,” among others. “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,” an Amazon spokesperson told The New York Times. “With Amazon stores around the world, we must also comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate.” Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE and is punishable by fines and imprisonment, with expressing support for LGBTQ+ rights also often deemed an offence.

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