1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Judge allows Netflix to show 'gay Jesus' parody

January 10, 2020

A federal court in Brazil has sided with Netflix following a ruling that had banned a comedy depicting Jesus Christ as gay. The film was the reason for a Christmas Eve attack on the company that made it.

A screenshot of the Netflix satire "The First Temptation of Christ"
Image: Netflix

A judge in Brazil's top court on Thursday rejected a lower court's ruling that prevented Netflix from showing a comedic film that depicts Jesus Christ in a homosexual relationship. 

The president of Brazil's Supreme Federal Court Judge Antonio dias Toffoli ruled in favor of the streaming platform, overturning a temporary injunction that had ordered Netflix to stop showing the the satirical Christmas special "The First Temptation of Christ."  

"One cannot suppose that a humorous satire has the ability to weaken the values of the Christian faith, whose existence is traced back more than 2,000 years, and which is the belief of the majority of Brazilian citizens," the judge said. 

Netflix had filed a complaint on Thursday challenging the earlier decision to censor the film, which was never pulled from the platform. Lawyers for the company argued that "the court decision aims to silence the group through fear and intimidation."

Attack on the production company

The lower court's ruling banning the film, made public on Wednesday, came after a petition in favor of banning the satire received thousands of signatures.

The film, which depicts Christ coming home for this 30th birthday with his boyfriend Orlando, drew the ire of conservative politicians, the Catholic church, and Catholics as well as protestants in Brazil following its December 3 release.

On Christmas Eve, a group of masked men attacked the headquarters of Porta dos Fundos, the company that produced the film, with molotov cocktails. No one was injured.

Three men later claimed responsibility for the attack in a video posted online.

Brazil: Will priests be permitted to marry?

A 'cultural war' and 'Christian values'

The lower court judge Benedicto Abicair ordered a suspension of the film until courts had time to consider the case brought against it by the Don Bosco Center for Faith and Culture, a Catholic organization. The group argues that the movie hurts the "honor of millions of Catholics."

Abicair's ruling, which only applied to Brazil, went against an earlier decision in support of airing the film.

Read moreIn Brazil's Amazon, a jungle hike to the grandmother tree

The judge argued that the decision "is beneficial not only to the Christian community, but to Brazilian society, which is mostly Christian."

In a statement given before the federal court's ruling, Porta dos Fundos, an award-winning film company, said they value free speech and that the group "trusts the courts to defend the Brazilian constitution."

The case comes against a backdrop of what some groups are calling a "cultural war," led by far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, against art projects that challenge "Christian values."

kp/ng (AFP, AP)

Every evening, DW sends out a selection of the day's news and features. Sign up here.