SÃO PAULO — A Brazilian court’s efforts to censor a Christmas special that shows Jesus as gay have failed.
A Rio de Janeiro court earlier this week ordered Netflix to remove “The First Temptation of Christ,” a Christmas special that Porta dos Fundos, a production company, made and all trailers and advertising that promoted it. Netflix appealed the ruling to the Brazilian Supreme Court.
The court on Friday ruled in Nexflix’s favor, arguing that censuring the special based on the claim it offended Christian values was inadequate.
Dom Bosco, a Catholic organization, sharply criticized the Netflix special.
A group on Christmas Eve used bombs to attack Porta dos Fundos’ Rio de Janeiro headquarters. A video showed masked people reading a manifesto while they threw Molotov cocktails against the building. The Popular Nationalist Insurgence, which is part of the Brazilian “integralist” movement, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Only one of the attackers, Eduardo Fauzi, was recognizable on security video.
The Brazilian police have sought Fauzi since the event, and have offered a 2,000 Brazilian Reais ($488.31) reward for tips that would have led to his capture. They nevertheless believe he has fled to Russia, and Interpol has placed him on its wanted list. Fauzi, for his part, doesn’t seem to be worried because he celebrated the Rio de Janeiro court’s ruling to take down the special in a video he posted to his social media networks.
Porta dos Fundos has produced humorous Christmas specials on their YouTube channel since 2013 with huge success.
“For those who does not value freedom of speech or have appreciation for other values, there are other channels,” said the group in a message it posted to its official Twitter account. “We will keep publishing our skits every Monday, Thursday and Saturday on our channels. We believe in the Judiciary Power to historically safeguard the Brazilian Constitution and move forward with the certainty that the democratic institutions will be preserved.”
Netflix Brasil on its official page wrote it “strongly supported artistic expression and would fight to defend that important principle, which is the heart behind great stories.”
Marcos Lemes, a well-known Brazilian theater writer, actor and director, tells the Washington Blade this is not the first time censorship has been used to try to shut down artistic and intellectual productions. Lemes said the Christmas special is just the most recent example.
“I won’t get into the matter of whether I like or not this or that production but that the artistic production should be free,” he said. “People can decide if they want to watch it or not. We can’t go back to a time where things have to go through a censor because obviously that kind of construction goes in the way of prohibiting anything that is not aligned with the current instituted power.”
“The state shouldn’t control artistic production, but incentive it,” added Lemes. “We are living under a censorship masked as defense of good morals and principles. Art and artists can’t be silenced in the face of attitudes like that, which (shamefully) hurts our Constitution.”
Netflix never removed the special, and it remains part of its worldwide catalogue.