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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – E-commerce giant Amazon is blocking search results for LGBTQ-related products on its United Arab Emirates website, following a series of pushbacks against same-sex themes in the Gulf region. 

Amazon made the decision after coming under pressure from UAE authorities, who reportedly threatened it with penalties and gave it until Friday to comply with its demand to restrict search results for LGBTQ-themed materials.

This is according to documents viewed by the New York Times, who first reported the story. 

"After hearing from the Emirates, Amazon had its Restricted Products team take steps to remove individual product listings, and a team that manages the company's search abilities hid the results for more than 150 keywords," the Times wrote in its report. Those keywords included "lgbtq," "pride," "closeted gay" and "transgender flag," among others, the report said. 

A search for "LGBT" and "LGBTQ" on Amazon's UAE site on Friday, July 1, produced no results. But searches for "pride" did produce a few rainbow-themed items like notebooks, shirts and phone cases bearing the word "pride." Rainbow flags with no wording on them were still available. 

The UAE's Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a CNBC request for comment at the time of writing.

The news follows Pride month, which is celebrated in countries around the world but not in the religiously conservative Gulf, which is overwhelmingly Muslim. Homosexuality is criminalized in the UAE and can be punished by fines and prison time. 

Amazon described its decision as one made to abide by local laws.  

"As a company, we remain committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we believe that the rights of LGBTQ+ people must be protected," an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC in an email.

"With Amazon stores around the world, we must also comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate." 

Pride, 'Lightyear' and regional backlash

Earlier this month, the UAE announced it was banning Disney Pixar's movie "Lightyear" from theaters for containing homosexual characters and a brief scene featuring a same-sex kiss. Numerous countries across the Middle East and South Asia did the same. 

An Instagram post celebrating Pride month from the page of the U.S. embassy in the UAE in early June also drew sharp backlash from locals. 

This is the second year that a U.S. diplomatic mission in any Gulf country has openly commemorated Pride month and gay rights; in 2021 the American Embassy in Abu Dhabi hoisted the rainbow Pride flag, triggering condemnation from prominent Emiratis angered by what many of them described as a lack of respect for their laws, religion and values. 

The U.S. embassy in the UAE did not reply to a CNBC request for comment. 

The UAE for years has worked to cast itself as a modern, tolerant haven in an otherwise highly conservative region. The oil-rich desert sheikhdom is home to a 90% expat population, and allows drinking alcohol, wearing bikinis on public beaches, and other cultural elements often forbidden in Muslim countries.

Last year the country passed a raft of modernizing reforms, including the decriminalization of premarital sex, an end to movie censorship in theaters and a shift from the Islamic weekend (Friday-Saturday) to the Saturday-Sunday weekend, in a push to be more competitive globally and attract additional foreign investment and talent. 

Its nightclubs resemble those in Europe, it regularly hosts concerts of famous rappers and pop stars, and it even relaxed the penalties on some of its drug laws last year. In 2016, it established a Ministry of Tolerance.

Homosexuality, however, still remains a taboo.


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Change Ad Consent Do not sell my data Top 10 Animal Products to Stop Eating Now Based on Which Animals Suffer the Most

If you are trying to cut back on eating animal products to help the billions of animals who suffer on factory farms around the United States, this post will help you figure out which foods to stop eating first.

The Reduction Journey

I stopped eating meat at age four, after reading The Story of Doctor Dolittle and hearing the main character refer to animals as his friends. “Animals are my friends, too,” I recall telling my bewildered mother, “And I don’t want to eat my friends.” Later, I became a vegan after learning about the animal welfare harms caused by eating dairy and eggs.

Like me, many vegetarians and vegans can recall a single “aha!” moment that convinced them to go meatless, while others make the switch more gradually. No matter where you are in your reduction journey, the most important thing is that you’re ready to remove animal products from your diet.

Here’s the catch: If this is your first time thinking about a plant-based diet, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed about where to start. Research by Faunalytics found that 84% of people who try a vegetarian or vegan diet eventually abandon it. Depending on your motivation and experience, it usually takes a lot of planning, preparation, and practice to successfully stop eating animal products.

Where can you go from here?

Luckily, the Faunalytics team has some data to help you. As an animal advocacy research organization, we recently sought to answer an important question: If someone is trying to reduce animal products from their diet, which product(s) should they stop eating first to make the biggest impact on farmed animals?

In terms of their effect on farmed animals, some food items cause more harm than others. As such, we looked at 98 categories of products, revealing which ones cause the most animal suffering to feed the U.S. population per day. We then ranked these products in a handy set of tools called our Animal Product Impact Scales. As you continue your reduction journey, consider removing our top-ranked foods from your diet as you try to be as helpful as possible for animals.

Top 10 Animal Products To Stop Eating Now

Without further ado, here are the top 10 products that cause the most farmed animal suffering to feed the U.S. population every single day:

The top 10 products that cause the most farmed animal suffering to feed the U.S. population per day.

As you can see, scrambled eggs and omelets top the list. Every day these items are eaten in the United States, it causes 201 million days of animal suffering! Think about that the next time you’re deciding between eggs or a delicious tofu scramble at the grocery store. And while eggs are often praised as a good source of protein, research shows plant-based proteins offer similar health benefits (minus animal suffering).

Toward a More Compassionate Future

I won’t pretend these numbers aren’t distressing. To think that the U.S. population causes over one billion days of suffering by eating just ten products each day is tough to cope with (and if you want to learn how we got these numbers, read this blog). But there’s good news: You can make a difference, and our scales will help you as you do your part to make the world a better place for animals.

Once you’ve switched to a fully plant-based diet, these scales can still be a helpful resource for you as you talk to your friends and family about their meat intake. Remember to be patient with your loved ones, as no two vegan journeys are the same. Together we can achieve a future free of animal exploitation, but we can only get there with compassion and understanding — for both animals and one another.

To learn more about Faunalytics’ Animal Product Impact Scales and how we came up with our numbers, click here. You can also read more about Faunalytics research in Top Animal Products that Cause the Most Suffering and Top 10 Foods that Cause Most Animal Deaths.

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Easy Ways to Help the Planet:

  • Eat Less Meat: Download Food Monster, the largest plant-based recipe app on the App Store to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy. You can also buy a hard or soft copy of our favorite vegan cookbooks.
  • Reduce Your Fast Fashion Footprint: Take the initiative by standing up against fast fashion pollution and supporting sustainable and circular brands like Tiny Rescue that are raising awareness around important issues through recycled zero-waste clothing designed to be returned and remade over and over again.
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