RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Gulf countries on Tuesday accused streaming giant Netflix of broadcasting content that “contradicts Islamic and societal values” and threatened legal action if it was not removed.

A statement issued jointly by the Saudi media regulator and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, headquartered in Riyadh, did not specifically identify the offending content. “The platform was contacted to remove this content, including content directed to children,” the statement said.

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.”

Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, have repeatedly locked horns with US film distributors over content related to sexual minorities, especially in films.

Saudi Arabia, which only opened cinemas in 2017, asked Disney in April to cut “LGBTQ references” in the Marvel superhero film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Disney did not comply and the film ultimately was not screened in the country.

The United Arab Emirates in June banned the Disney animated film Lightyear, which contains a lesbian kiss.

But there was no immediate indication on Tuesday that GCC countries were objecting to LGBTQ content on Netflix. The UAE is considered one of the more liberal countries in the Gulf region, though films with adult content are routinely cut or edited.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2022

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