The Last of Us Part 2 is unavailable in the UAE and Saudi Arabia because two of its main characters are in a gay relationship.
The news comes from a report published by MSN, which documents the fact that the game is banned and suggests that the reasoning behind it is due to "conservative" local traditions. While the report itself is carefully worded to beat around the bush, it links to several tweets that are more willing to grapple with the issue directly.
أحد المستخدمين الإمارتيين لجهاز PS4 على منصة Reddit لاحظ عدم تواجد لعبة The Last of Us Part 2 على متجر بلايستيشن الإماراتي فتواصل مع دعم المتجر وكان ردهم أنه في حاله عدم توافر اللعبة في المتجر المحلي فأنه قد تم حظرها من قبل السلطات والشركة لا تستطيع القيام بأي شئ حيال ذلك. pic.twitter.com/2oEYHurZgp— Games Mix (@Games_Mixx) May 26, 2020
"One of the Emirati users of the PS4 on the Reddit platform, noting that the Last of Us Part 2 game does not exist on the UAE PlayStation Store, contacted the store support and their response was that if the game is not available in the local store, it has been banned by the authorities and the company cannot do anything about that," reads the above tweet when roughly translated.
The tweet below is shorter, but far more direct.
رسمياً— WHR (@whrumor) May 26, 2020
لعبة "The Last Of Us 2" محجوبة في الشرق الأوسط بسبب المحتوى الجنسي (المثليه 🏳🌈)! pic.twitter.com/upGSR3oiev
"The Last Of Us 2 game is blocked in the Middle East due to sexual content (homosexuals)," it reads.
According to the report, "Twitter users noted that the sexual content of Sony's game, according to the ESRB rating, could be the main reason the game hasn't been approved in the two Gulf countries that are known for having very conservative traditions."
"Additionally, users who searched for information about the game trying to figure out the reason why it may have been banned in their countries, learned that the game includes a same-sex relationship between two women, which could explain the ban."
"Has somebody told them a chunk of the roster in Overwatch is gay?" asks another.
At present, it appears the game is still banned in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. In the former, all sexual acts outside of heterosexual marriage are outlawed, and can be met with punishment ranging from fines to the death penalty. The latter features similarly intense laws, prohibiting all non-heterosexual romantic contact. As a result, it's not a stretch to assume that The Last of Us Part 2 is specifically banned in these countries because of Ellie and Dina's relationship.
In somewhat related controversy, The Last of Us Part 2 has been review bombed on Metacritic. You can read ours here, which is substantially more thoughtful and measured than some guy posting a 1,000 word comment about why he hates the game he hasn't, in fact, played.