Disney refuses to prejudice the controversial ‘Don’t say gay’ law that the US state of Florida is likely to introduce soon, according to activist groups. In addition, the animation studio is said to have blocked LGBTQ+ stories and characters in Pixar films. What is going on?
The law limits the possibility of publicly discussing sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill was passed by the Florida House of Representatives on Feb. 24 and will soon be voted on by the Senate.
It has been widely criticized and President Joe Biden has also condemned the law. But The Walt Disney Company hasn’t commented on it yet, despite being one of the major employers in Florida. Disney has several amusement parks in that state.
In recent days, the criticism has grown because Disney has kept quiet. In particular, the Animation Guild denounced the silence of CEO Bob Chapek and spoke of “a big misstep”. Disney must raise its voice against the conservatives’ proposal, according to the union, “as one of the largest brands and platforms in the world”. On Monday, Chapek said the company is doing its best to promote the queer community by creating “highly inclusive, inspirational content”.
Disney pledged on Wednesday to donate $5 million (more than 4.5 million euros) to Human Rights Campaign and other organizations to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Chapek also said he wants to talk to the Florida governor, but the Disney executive did not explicitly reject the law.
Human Rights Campaign has rejected The Walt Disney Company’s donation, demanding that the company take “meaningful action” to counter Florida’s “Don’t say gay” legislation.
In addition, employees of studio Pixar, a part of Disney, claimed on Thursday that the group has banned LGBTQ+ stories and characters from various Pixar films. A letter about this is in the hands of the trade journal Variety . The Pixar employees thus contradict Chapek’s claim that Disney is bringing attention to the queer community.
Pixar’s LGBTQ+ employees ( Toy Story , Finding Nemo , The Incredibles ) write in their letter to the top that they are fed up with Disney claiming to be pro gay, while in practice the company does not live up to it. “Almost every moment of overt homosexual affection has been taken out of Pixar films,” they write. “Even if the creative teams and the leadership of Pixar were very critical of that.”