After withering criticism for not taking a more public stance against Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill, Disney CEO Bob Chapek appeared to reverse course on the issue yesterday.
After earlier saying corporate statements have less impact than content that affirms LGBTQ+ representation, Chapek expressed his opposition to the bill directly with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and signed a letter in opposition to the legislation, according to a report in Variety. The move wasn't enough for LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, though, which said it will refuse further donations from Disney until the company takes "meaningful action" to fight anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
Disney responded to the news in a statement:
"We signed the HRC's national business statement opposing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and pledged to financially support their efforts, and while we are surprised and disappointed that they will not take our financial support at this time, we remain committed to meaningful action to combat legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community."
HRC had earlier said it was waiting for actions from Disney rather than words.
"The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida's Don't Say Gay or Trans bill, don't become dangerous laws, and if they do, to work to get them off the books," Joni Madison, interim president at the Human Rights Campaign, said in an earlier statement.
Madison noted that business can have a "major impact in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights" like marriage equality.
"While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida -- including hardworking families employed by Disney -- today they took a step in the right direction," Madison continued. "But it was merely the first step."
Disney had initially issued a statement saying the company understood the importance of the issues but declined to take a more visible stance. In an internal email to cast members obtained by CNN, Chapek defended the lack of public opposition by the company against the bill, saying corporate statements "do very little to change outcomes or minds" and reiterated the focus on creating inclusive content.
Madison appeared grateful for Disney's actions yesterday, but reminded Chapek of the importance of continuing the fight against the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation sweeping the country.
"This should be the beginning of Disney's advocacy efforts rather than the end," Madison concluded.
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