Jarosław Gowin, a deputy prime minister in Poland’s conservative government, has called on American streaming giant Netflix to remove from its service a film that depicts Jesus as gay.
On his Twitter page, Gowin, who also serves as minister of science and higher education, shared an internet petition condemning the film. Addressing Netflix’s CEO, Gowin wrote in Polish: “Reed Hastings, we demand that Netflix remove the blasphemous film from its platform.”
Reed Hastings: Żądamy, by Netflix usunął bluźnierczy film ze swojej platformy! – Podpisz: https://t.co/mAoyYgw2PM
— Jarosław Gowin (@Jaroslaw_Gowin) January 5, 2020
The film, called “The First Temptation of Christ”, was made by Porta dos Fundos, a YouTube comedy group from Rio de Janeiro. It imagines Jesus being in a homosexual relationship with Orlando, a friend, and has drawn controversy since its release in Brazil in early December.
The petition calls for the “removal of the film from its platform”. It describes the productions’s aim as “blasphemy”, with “a one and only target religion – Christianity”. The petition also describes the consequence of the film as “numbing human consciences” and preparing social acceptance for “further and bloodier persecution of Christians”.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of the Brazilian president, described the film as an attack on the belief of 86 percent of the population. A prominent Brazilian bishop called the movie “blasphemous, vulgar and disrespectful”.
This is the second time in recent months that the Polish government has come into conflict with Netflix. In November, the Polish foreign ministry criticised the US firm for a Holocaust documentary that featured a map of German Nazi camps imposed on the postwar borders of Poland, with a voiceover describing them as being “in Poland”.
Following intervention from Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Netflix announced that it would amend the documentary “to avoid any misunderstanding”.
Netflix says that it will make adjustments to the documentary "The Devil Next Door" to "avoid any misunderstanding".
PM Morawiecki responded with his thanks for the company's goodwill https://t.co/c3rGmPQn7z
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 15, 2019
Alleged insults against religion also became a talking point in Poland last year, after LGBT rights activists put up posters showing a rainbow flag added to an image of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, Poland’s most important Catholic icon. As a consequence, two woman were investigated on suspicion of the crime of offending religious sentiment, which carries a prison sentence of up to two years (and is one of Poland’s many “insult laws“).
Joachim Brudziński, the interior minister at the time, described the image as “a profanation of a sacred, for all generation of Poles, image”, and as “cultural barbarism”. Prosecutors, however, later decided not to bring charges.
Prosecutors in Częstochowa have closed an investigation into an image of the Virgin Mary and Jesus with rainbow colours added that was displayed at the city's LGBT march. There was a lack of evidence that it offended religious sentiment, a crime in Poland https://t.co/AWotq7Ymon
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 23, 2019
Main image credit: Netflix
Monika Prończuk is the deputy editor of Notes from Poland. She was previously the Nico Colchester fellow at the Financial Times, acting FT Poland correspondent, and journalist at OKO.press, an independent fact-checking media outlet. Her articles have appeared in Quartz, Financial Times, Politico, Gazeta Wyborcza and Tygodnik Powszechny.