CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s media regulator demanded Wednesday that Netflix and other steaming services adhere to this majority Muslim county’s “societal values” — a veiled reference to programs featuring members of the LGBTQ community.
The statement came a day after Gulf Arab countries asked Netflix to remove “offensive content” on the streaming service, apparently targeting programs that show gays and lesbians.
According to the Egyptian government’s statement, streaming services should comply with “societal principles and values of the country” they are streaming in. The statement called for them to undertake “necessary measures if they air content contradicting values of the society.”
The statement by the Supreme Council for Media Regulation did not elaborate. Later Wednesday, Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, declined an Associated Press request for a comment.
Homosexuality is highly taboo in Egypt, where a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 95% of those polled said it should be “rejected by society.”
Though it is not explicitly prohibited by law, members of the LGBTQ community are often prosecuted under charges of “immorality” and “debauchery.” Authorities regularly arrest gay men, with large police raids on private parties or locations such as public baths, restaurants, and bars.
Egypt’s movie industry, long celebrated in the Mideast, also bans films and programs from featuring gays and lesbians.
In June, countries in the Muslim world banned the public showing of Disney’s latest animated film “Lightyear” which has a brief moment showing two lesbian characters kissing. After that, the company’s Disney+ streaming service said its “content available should align with local regulatory requirements” in Gulf Arab countries. .
In January, the first Arabic Netflix movie, “No Dearer Friends,” sparked controversy, with critics claiming it was a threat to family and religious values, encouraged homosexuality and that it was allegedly unfit for Arab societies. At least one lawmaker, Mostafa Bakry, called for Netflix to be banned in Egypt.
The film contains scenes unprecedented for audiences in the country: an Egyptian wife discreetly slips off her black, lacy underwear from under her clothes before heading out for dinner; a man reveals that he is gay, and a Lebanese father tells his teenage daughter she is free to choose whether to have sex with her boyfriend despite his reservations.