A Brazilian judge on Thursday ordered Netflix to stop showing in Brazil a comedy film that depicts Jesus as a homosexual on grounds it violates the nation’s religion laws.
Released in Brazil as a Christmas television special, “The First Temptation of Christ” began airing on Netflix Dec. 3. Produced by the comedy troupe Porta dos Fundos, it depicts Jesus returning home to a surprise party for his 30thbirthday—with a male guest who later plays “Jingle Bells” on the piano, replacing the song’s traditional lyrics with words that mock God as Creator.
Dubbed a “gay Jesus comedy,” it drew an immediate outcry from Brazil’s Christian community as blasphemous. Protests came to a head when the Porta dos Fundos headquarters was firebombed on Christmas Eve.
Judge Benedicto Abicair ordered the film’s removal after more than 2 million Brazilians signed a petition stating the film broke the law and “seriously offended” Christians. A Brazilian Catholic organization circulated the petition, which also argued that the airing of the film dishonored millions of Catholics.
Ricardo German, an Edinburgh-based Brazilian university student, was delighted by the ruling.
“According to article 208 of the Brazilian Penal Code, to ‘publicly denigrate an act or object of religious worship’ is a crime punishable by up to one year in prison,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“Judge Abicair did nothing but order the provisional suspension of a work in clear violation of that legal prohibition,” German said.
The judge, according to German, can forbid Netflix’s Brazilian operation—officially a “legal person” for the purposes of legal proceedings—from streaming the film. He can also bar Porta dos Fundos from advertising the film anywhere that can be accessed from Brazil, “which would technically include the internet as a whole.”
Brazilian courts tend to lean to the left, which causes some concern that a higher court might reverse the decision.
Judge Abicair argued the ruling benefits not only the Christian community, but Brazilian society overall, which is mostly Christian.
The ruling comes at a time when some civil groups have accused Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, of waging a “cultural war,” cutting funding for arts projects that challenge Christian values.
Netflix has refused to comment to comment on the ruling, as did Porta dos Fundos. The decision contradicted an earlier decision rejecting censorship of the program, and is valid until another court orders otherwise.
As of today, the film is still listed as available on Netflix in the United States.