Florida parliament votes to punish Disney for being too progressive

The Florida parliament passed a bill on Thursday, April 21, removing a favorable status enjoyed by the Disney World amusement park, the entertainment giant having defended certain progressive themes little appreciated by elected Republicans. The text was now to be signed into law by the conservative governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, whose relations with Disney have deteriorated recently, even though the company acts as a tourist magnet in his sunny state.

Mr. DeSantis can not digest that Bob Chapek, the CEO of Disney, has spoken out publicly against a law he initiated, prohibiting the teaching of subjects related to sexual orientation or gender identity at primary school. This text is nicknamed by its opponents “Don’t say gay» («don’t talk about gays»).

Each with a Republican majority, the two houses of parliament sitting in the capital Tallahassee voted for the bill: the Senate on Wednesday by 23 votes against 16, followed by the House of Representatives on Thursday by 70 votes against 38. A double ballot synonymous with setbacks for Disney, which remains an economic heavyweight in the region.

The special status in the crosshairs of the text was granted to Disney at the time of the construction of the Disney World leisure site in the 1960s. It offers the entertainment giant a large autonomy of local management and exempts it from most of the state regulations. This amusement park near Orlando is among the most visited in the world. Relations have not always been strained between Ron DeSantis and Disney, which notably employs more than 75,000 people at Disney World and had contributed financially to the Republican candidate’s campaign, not to mention the Democratic camp. But they have now turned sour and the giant has suspended these electoral financings.

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