Entertainment

Disney pauses donations in Florida, CEO apologises over silence on ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill | News


Bob Chapek

Disney CEO Bob Chapek has apologised for the company’s public silence over Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and said Disney will pause political donations in the state.

“Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill,” Chapek said in a memo to staff released on Friday (11).

“Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”

Chapek has until now remained mostly silent as anger grew over the bill, which proposes to ban discussions over sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. The bill is on Governor Rick DeSantis’s desk after passage through both houses of the state legislature.

As a major employer in Florida with Disney World and a has donor to supporters and opponents of the bill, the entertainment giant has come under scrutiny.

On Wednesday the CEO told shareholders the company was making a $5m donation to Human Rights Campaign however the group said it was declining the offer until Chapek took more meaningful steps against the bill.

On the same day LGBTQIA+ employees and their supporters at Disney’s Pixar division issued a statement claiming the parent company cuts out “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection” in their stories. Disney has not commented on that statement.

Chapek’s memo appears below in full.

To my fellow colleagues, but especially our LGBTQ+ community,

Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.

Our employees see the power of this great company as an opportunity to do good. I agree. Yes, we need to use our influence to promote that good by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all.

Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review. But, I know there is so much more work to be done. I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally. You will hear more about our progress in the coming weeks.

I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community. I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on—and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.

Bob

 

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