A Brazilian judge has ordered Netflix to remove a Christmas special that depicts Jesus as a gay man after several online petitions circulated calling for its removal. Wednesday's ruling by the Rio de Janeiro judge, Benedicto Abicair, responded to a particular petition with 2.4 million signatures that argued the "honor of millions of Catholics" was damaged by The First Temptation of Christ.
The satirical Portuguese-Language comedy special was produced by the Rio-based film company Porta dos Fundos, whose headquarters were gasoline-bombed in December by Molotov cocktails, a representative for the company announced on Christmas Eve.
Netflix told The Associated Press that it would not comment on the judge's ruling. Porta dos Fundos also declined to comment on the judge's decision, which contradicted an earlier decision rejecting censorship of the film. The ruling is temporary until a final ruling is made by a higher court, the BBC reported.
Abicair said that movie's removal "is beneficial not only to the Christian community, but to Brazilian society which is mostly Christian."
"The consequences of the dissemination and exhibition of 'artistic production' ... are more likely to cause more serious and irreparable damage than its suspension," he wrote.
The First Temptation of Christ, which premiered on Dec. 3, depicts Jesus returning home on his 30th birthday and implies that he is gay. Religious groups have protested the depiction, while the film's creators have defended it as a legitimate form of expression.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, called the special "garbage" on Twitter, according to the BBC, and said that Porta dos Fundos "do not represent Brazilian society."
Fábio Porchat, the star of the special and the co-founder of Porta dos Fundos, told Variety last month that the criticism of the comedy special was "homophobic."
"For some Catholics here in Brazil, it's OK if Jesus is a bad guy, uses drugs, that's no problem," Porchat said. "The problem is he's gay. No, he can't be gay. And that's interesting because Jesus is everything. God is black and white and gay and straight. God is everything. It's more homophobic to be insulted by a gay Jesus than to make Jesus special."
The day before Christmas, a group of hooded men reportedly attacked the headquarters of Porta dos Fundos with Molotov cocktails. No one was hurt in the incident, which three men claimed responsibility for in a video that circulated on social media days later.
Photo credit: Netflix