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Gulf states ask Netflix to remove content 'violating media regulations'

While the statement was not specific, Saudi state media highlighted movies and shows that referenced LGBT characters
A sign is posted in front of Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California, on 20 April 20 2022 (AFP)

Gulf Arab states are demanding that Netflix remove material deemed to violate local media regulations, including content that "contradicts Islamic and societal values". 

Saudi Arabia’s media regulator and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council put out a statement on Tuesday threatening the US-based streaming service with legal action if their concern is not addressed. 

"The platform was contacted to remove this content, including content directed to children," the statement said, without specifically identifying the material. Saudi state media did highlight movies and shows featuring LGBT characters. 

The statement also noted that regional 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". 

Saudi authorities seize rainbow-themed toys for 'promoting homosexuality'
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In a programme discussing the issue, Saudi state-run Al Ekhbariya TV showed blurred-out animation clips from Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous that appeared to show two girls embracing. 

In an on-air interview on that channel, a lawyer said that these were "very unfortunate and painful clips for our children, grandchildren and the next generation".

Also on Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates issued a similarly worded statement regarding Netflix, saying it would follow up on what the platform broadcasts in the coming days and "assess its commitment to broadcasting controls" in the country.

Just earlier this year, the UAE and other countries banned Walt Disney-Pixar's animated feature film, Lightyear, from screening in cinemas because it features characters in a same-sex relationship. 

In 2020, several countries in the Middle East banned Disney and Pixar's film Onward over a reference to a same-sex relationship.

Authorities in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia refused to screen the film, which has a passing reference to a lesbian relationship between two secondary characters. 

In 2017, Saudi Arabia asked Disney to cut "LGBTQ references" in the Marvel superhero film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Disney did not comply and ultimately the film was not screened in the kingdom. 

In June, Saudi officials seized rainbow-coloured toys and clothing from shops in the capital as part of a crackdown on homosexuality, state media had reported.

According to the report, the colours send a "poisoned message" to children. It is unclear how many items were seized in the operation by the commerce ministry. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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