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Amazon Restricts LGBT Product Sales in UAE After Government Pressure: Report

Amazon is an avid supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, and has been an annual sponsor to the pride parade in San Francisco (picture from 2019). © IMAGO / UPI Photo
Amazon is an avid supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, and has been an annual sponsor to the pride parade in San Francisco (picture from 2019). © IMAGO / UPI Photo

Amazon has restricted items and search results involving LGBT products and issues on its website within the United Arab Emirates.

The Big Tech shipping company decided to restrict product sales Monday after the Emirati government gave Amazon’s local operation until Friday to comply or else face penalization, according to documents reviewed by the New York Times.

The affected search results included broad terms such as “LGBTQ” and “pride,” as well as targeted searches such as “transgender flag,” “queer brooch,” and “chest binder for lesbians.” Any attempts to search for said products within the UAE returned “no results.”

Amazon also mentioned specific books being restricted in the UAE, including My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Nagata Kabi, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, and Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.

“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 spokeswoman said in a statement. “With Amazon stores around the world, we must also comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate.”

Amazon has had a mixed history when it comes to the sale of LGBT-related products on its platform. The platform drew criticism for banning literature portraying transgender people as mentally ill, only to reverse its ban after pressure from activists. At least two Amazon employees quit over the ban reversal, and others have become more outspoken about seeking to restrict literature that is critical of transgender identities. The company adjusted its policies in 2021 to allow more discretion when it came to the decision to remove “offensive” literature from its listing.

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