At the end of 2019, the local Catholic organization Dom Bosco Center of Faith and Culture filed a lawsuit to prevent the broadcast of an end-of-year television program made by the comedy production company Porta dos Fundos. According to the organization, the program “The First Temptation of Christ”, available on the Netflix streaming platform, represents an “attack” on the “set of beliefs and values that surround the figure of Christ”. 

The argument was accepted by a Rio de Janeiro judge, who censured the program and all the publicity related to it. Netflix challenged the decision through a Complaint (RCL 38782) to the Supreme Court and a request for an injunction to guarantee the broadcast of the program, which was accepted in January 2020.

Conectas submitted a request for amicus curiae status in which argued that the end-of-year special does not violate freedom of belief and that the continuation of the censorship would have incalculable impacts on freedom of expression and on the right of the users of Netflix services to access the content. 

The organization drew on an emblematic case involving the film “The Last Temptation of Christ”, directed by Martin Scorsese, and the Chilean State that banned it. Following a ruling by Chile’s Supreme Court to maintain the censorship, the country was convicted by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for violating freedom of expression and thought. 

Conectas also cited a report by the UN special rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, for whom religious discrimination “can also take place when an individual’s enjoyment of other fundamental rights – for example the right to health, education, expression, peaceful assembly – is restricted or interfered with by State or non-State actors in the name of religion, or on the basis of a person’s religion or belief”.

In November 2020, the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled to definitively annul the previous court decisions and to guarantee that the program could remain on the Netflix catalog.

Technical information

  • Case: Complaint 38782:
  • Court: Supreme Court
  • Status: The case has been closed and the censorship of the program ended
  • Procedure:
    • 1/9/20: Request for an injunction is accepted by the Supreme Court and the censorship is suspended
    • 2/12/20: Request for admission as amicus curiae
    • 11/3/20: Second Chamber definitively overturns the two rulings from the Rio de Janeiro court