Amazon has censored search results related to LGBTQ+ products in the United Arab Emirates after being pressured by the government.
Among the products restricted within the country are chest binders, LGBTQ+ flags and books such as Maia Kobabe’s "Gender Queer: A Memoir." The UAE criminalizes same-sex sexual acts, and offenders can face up to 14 years in prison.
It is unclear what kind of sanction Amazon would have received if it had refused the demand.
On Wednesday, Amazon spokesperson Nicole Pampe told The New York Times, which first reported the restrictions, “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. With Amazon stores around the world, we must also comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate.”
This is emblematic of a situation in which Big Tech supports LGBTQ+ rights at home but acquiesces to the slightest challenge abroad. Protocol has previously reported about how Google and Twitter have remained silent on a new anti-LGBTQ+ bill proposed in Ghana’s parliament that would prohibit social media users from discussing LGBTQ+ life in a positive manner or advocating for the community.
Google and Twitter have established offices in Ghana, and activists have called on them to help kill the bill.
But even at home, some corporations including Amazon have been accused of "pinkwashing," in which major corporations present themselves as supportive of LGBTQ+ communities but often donate to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians.
For Pride Month, Amazon encouraged prospective employees to “Bring your whole self to work, every day. At Amazon, we're dedicated to build a better workplace for our LGBTQIA+ employees.”
However, the company was banned from the Pride parade in its hometown of Seattle because of “their financial donations to politicians who actively propose and support anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, oppose pro-LGBTQIA+ and other human rights legislation, and for allowing anti-LGBTQIA+ organizations to raise funds from their AmazonSmile program,” Seattle Pride organizers said. “We simply cannot partner with any organization actively harming our community through the support of discriminatory laws and politics.”