RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian judge on Wednesday ordered Netflix to take off the air a Christmas special that some called blasphemous for depicting Jesus as a gay man and which prompted a gasoline bomb attack on the satirists behind the program.
The ruling by Rio de Janeiro judge Benedict Abicair responded to 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.” The special was produced by the Rio-based film company Porta dos Fundos, whose office was targeted in the Christmas Eve attack.
Netflix told The Associated Press it would not comment on the ruling. Porta dos Fundos did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the judge’s decision, which contradicted an earlier decision rejecting censorship of the program.
The ruling, which apparently only applies to Brazil, is valid until another court orders otherwise.
Abicair said the program’s withdrawal "is beneficial not only to the Christian community, but to Brazilian society which is mostly Christian."
The ruling comes at a time when some civil groups say far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is waging a "cultural war," cutting funding for arts projects that challenge “Christian values" and inveighing against flamboyant carnival celebrations.
The morning of the day before Christmas, a group of hooded men attacked the headquarters of Porta dos Fundos with Molotov cocktails. No one was hurt. A video circulating days later on social media showed three men claiming responsibility for the attack, and said they targeted the Brazilian comedy group.
The First Temptation of Christ depicts Jesus returning home on his 30th birthday and insinuates he is gay. Religious groups bristled at the depiction. Creators of the film have defended it as legitimate freedom of expression.