Amazon is making headlines again for some anti-LGBTQ practices that they deem necessary to comply with local laws in the UAE. Instead of standing up to the UAE and its demands, Amazon buckled under pressure and removed LGBTQ-themed search results from its website. They had until Friday to comply with the UAE.
According to Insider, the UAE would have penalized Amazon if they hadn’t removed the search keywords.
On Amazon’s UAE site more than 150 keywords were removed, including words such as “LGBTQ,” “pride,” and “queer” which came up with zero results on the website.
Although some LGBTQ-themed items like Alice Walker’s The Color Purple are still available for sale in the UAE, it is unsure whether Amazon will do another round of censoring LGBTQ products from their store.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the removal of LGBTQ items from their UAE store, saying, “As a company, we remain committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we believe that the rights of LGBTQ+ people must be protected. With Amazon stores around the world, we must also comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate.”
Amazon’s actions come after a year where they have come under fire for their anti-LGBTQ business practices.
Earlier this month, Amazon removed the film Saint-Narcisse from its streaming platform in the U.S. and is refusing to sell the film in its online store in the U.K. The film follows a pair of twins who begin an incestuous affair together.
Also this year, Seattle Pride booted Amazon from their sponsorship for donating to anti-LGBTQ lawmakers.
Seattle Pride Executive Director Krystal Marx said that the decision came after Amazon, which is based in Seattle, donated over $450,000 to members of Congress who voted against the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal civil rights legislation. The bill passed the House last year but has stalled in the Senate, even though it would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination at the federal level.
Amazon has also been sued by a former employee who alleges that they were fired because of their sexual orientation.
A report from the Seattle Times states that Jonathan Fahlberg, an organizational psychologist, worked on Amazon’s management team as a senior business partner for human resources in Spokane, WA until being fired in late 2020 after issuing a complaint about alleged harassment from his supervisor.
The lawsuit accuses the company of firing Fahlberg for being gay and also makes accusations against his former manager, accusing her of showing up at his apartment on the second anniversary of his husband’s death and groping him – and later threatening him with retaliation if he told anyone.