Disney Pauses Political Donations in Florida Amid ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Backlash

in Disney Parks, Entertainment

bob chapek

Credit: Screenshot via Annual Shareholders Meeting

The Walt Disney Company, and in particular CEO Bob Chapek, has been under fire over the past couple of weeks over its statements towards legislation being called the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in the state of Florida.

The bill passed through the Florida state legislature and Disney was criticized for not taking a stand against it.

After making a vague statement following the passage of the bill, Chapek sent out an email to Disney Cast Members where he said he felt the company could make more of an impact through its content rather than a statement. That email was leaked to the public and Disney fell under even more criticism.

bob chapek onstage
Credit: Disney

Disney recently held its annual shareholder’s meeting where Chapek took a firm stand on the legislation saying that the Walt Disney Company does not support it and that they would be donating $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign to help further protect LGBTQ+ rights. However, the Human Rights Campaign announced that it would be refusing the sizable donation, citing that they wanted to see “more meaningful actions.” Disney responded by saying it was “surprised and disappointed” in the Human Rights Campaign’s decision.

Related: Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser isn’t defined by the typical hotel model, says Bob Chapek

Now, in the latest portion of this saga, The Walt Disney Company has announced that it will be pausing all political donations in the state of Florida and would be working to create a new framework for its political giving.

bob chapek with mickey and minnie
Credit: Disney

The company shared the following statement from Disney CEO Bob Chapek, which was sent to all Disney Cast Members.

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 chapek
Credit: Screenshot via Annual Shareholders Meeting

Recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spoke out against The Walt Disney Company and it seems ties between the Governor’s office and The Walt Disney Company are beginning to loosen.

“You have companies, like at Disney, that are going to say and criticize parents’ rights, they’re going to criticize the fact that we don’t want transgenderism in kindergarten in first grade classrooms,” DeSantis said. “If that’s the hill they’re going to die on, then how do they possibly explain lining their pockets with their relationship from the Communist Party of China? Because that’s what they do, and they make a fortune, and they don’t say a word about the really brutal practices that you see over there at the hands of the CCP.”

Inside the Magic will continue to keep you updated on this everchanging situation.  

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