Photo Credits: Fortune
Brazilian comedy production company Porta dos Fundos created a Christmas special satire that portrayed Jesus Christ as a gay man and it was released on Netflix. The reactions were harsh from start as politicians and preachers called the film an act of blasphemy while millions of people signed petitions calling for its creators to be prosecuted with a crime. The most serious attack was with Molotov cocktails on the headquarters of Porta dos Fundos that happened in December 2019. Because the backlash to the movie — called “The First Temptation of Christ” — had been so intense at the beginning of 2020, a Brazilian judge ordered Netflix to remove the film from its streaming service.
The ruling by Benedicto Abicair, Rio De Janeiro judge, came after a petition by a Brazilian Catholic organization that argued the "honor of millions of Catholics" was hurt by the airing of "The First Temptation of Christ." Abicair tried to explain his decision by pointing out that Brazilian society, which is mostly Christian, would benefit from the film’s removal and that playing of the movie could cause serious consequences. “The consequences of the dissemination and exhibition of ‘artistic production’ ... are more likely to cause more serious and irreparable damage than its suspension,” wrote Benedicto Abicair, as The Washington Post reports. Neither Netflix nor Porta dos Fundos commented on the ruling.
This is not the first time that Netflix is facing censorship around the world. Different states have implemented different rules and regulations regarding Netflix’s shows, sometimes cutting out scenes or episodes to avoid violating legal or social norms. According to The Washington Post, A 2018 episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” in which the comedian analyzes the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, was pulled from viewers in the Middle Eastern country following a request from authorities there. Similar things happened in India or Thailand and now in Brazil which is the first time that Netflix removed a show in Latin America country.
In 2017 there was an initiative to remove Argentine movie “Desire,” which shows a young girl accidentally experiencing an orgasm, and there was also an uproar among Brazilian leftists because “The Mechanism” showed a fictionalized version of the country’s recent political scandals, but both shows remained on Netflix. The judge’s decision to remove "The First Temptation of Christ” from Netflix is a precedent in this part of the world and may initiate further censorship in future.
Since then, on January 10th, Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision to ban Netflix from streaming the film depicting Jesus as gay.