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Amazon restricts LGBTQ goods in United Arab Emirates

Online retailer says it 'must comply with the local laws and regulations' in a statement to MEE
The UAE asked Amazon to impose new measures that will restrict customers from searching and buying LGBT-related products (Reuters)

Amazon has restricted search results for LGBTQ-related goods in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after reportedly being pressured by authorities. 

The online retailer outlined the new measures in an internal memo, according to the New York Times newspaper that first reported the story.

The UAE gave Amazon an ultimatum until Friday to adhere to its national laws or risk penalties, without detailing them.

Amazon had hidden the results of more than 150 search keywords in its UAE domain website, which included terms such as LGBTQ, pride, closeted gay, transgender flag, queer brooch, and chest binder for lesbians. 

The retailer also removed listings of LGBT-related products and books, such as My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Nagata Kabi, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

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In an email, an Amazon spokesperson told Middle East Eye that the company "remain[s] committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we believe that the rights of LGBTQ+ people must be protected".

However, she added that: "with Amazon stores around the world, we must also comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate".

MEE understands that search results were only restricted on the Amazon.ae store. The company branched out into the UAE in 2017 after acquiring the e-commerce site SOUQ.com.

Same-sex relationships are outlawed in the UAE and individuals can face punishment for homosexual activity.

Last month, Kuwait's foreign ministry summoned the United States embassy's acting charge d'affaires over tweets the embassy published that "support homosexuality".

US officials there had posted a rainbow flag and a message of solidarity from President Joe Biden for Pride month, which ended on Thursday.  

Kuwait said it handed the charge d'affaires a memorandum stating its rejection of what was published and stressing the need for the embassy to respect the laws and regulations in force in the emirate and the obligation not to post such tweets.