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Netflix Responds After Exclusion From HRC's Corporate Equality Index

Netflix Responds After Exclusion From HRC's Corporate Equality Index

Netflix (Mathieu Bitton)/Getty Images

The streamer was left out of the annual list for the first time in five years because of their handling of Dave Chappelle’s controversial The Closer comedy special.

Streaming giant Netflix lost its inclusion on the Human Rights Campaign's annual Corporate Equality Index due to its airing of Dave Chappelle's controversial special The Closer. It was the first time in five years the streamer did not appear on the list which recognizes companies that are the "Best Places to Work" for LGBTQ+ folks.

"Given the harm experienced by transgender workers at Netflix as a result of the company's handling of the release of The Closer, HRC has suspended Netflix's Corporate Equality Index score and will not be rewarding it with a 'Best Places to Work' distinction in the 2022 CEI," HRC said in the report.

In a statement, Netflix said they "respectfully disagree with HRC's decision" to exclude them from the report.

"While we have more work to do, we've made real strides on inclusion, including for our LGBTQ+ colleagues," a Netflix spokesperson said in response to the news. "For example, we offer comprehensive transgender and non-binary-inclusive care in our U.S. health plans as well as adoption, surrogacy, and parental leave for same-sex couples. And we've also worked hard to increase representation on screen. Netflix is the only major entertainment company to have commissioned and published independent research into diversity in our content so that we can better measure our progress."

Jay Brown, senior vice president of research and training at HRC, said they initially considered deducting 25 points from the streamer's overall score, but ultimately decided the suspension was a "more appropriate" response to the comedy special deemed offensively transphobic by many, including Brown.

"The special itself, the reaction, the response from the company was really tough," Brown told NBC News. "As a trans person, it was hard to watch."

In The Closer, Chappelle questioned the authenticity of trans women's identities with a series of jokes.

"I'm not saying it's not p*ssy, but it's 'Beyond P*ssy' or 'Impossible P*ssy,'" Chappelle said during one segment in The Closer. "It tastes like p*ssy, but that's not quite what it is, is it?"

Chappelle also questioned why rapper DaBaby received more notoriety for his hateful comments about the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV rather than his previous killing of a man in a Walmart. He also defended comments from Harry Potter author JK Rowling and declared himself a member of "Team TERF," a reference to Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists who deny the identity of trans women as women.

Trans Dear White Peopleshowrunner Jaclyn cut ties with Netflix in a dispute over The Closer, tweeting "I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content."

Despite the controversy, the report did note that "HRC and Netflix are having productive conversations about steps the company could take to demonstrate it is acting in a manner consistent with the values of workplace equality and inclusion and to improve trust among their employees and the public."

RELATED | Dave Chappelle Got a Standing Ovation Despite Transphobia Controversy

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