Disney trolls Ron DeSantis with plan to host world’s biggest LGBTQ+ conference in Florida

Ron DeSantis

Walt Disney World will reportedly hold the world’s largest LGBTQ+ conference amid a fall-out with Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit – which attracts more than 5,000 attendees yearly, according to its website – will be held at the Orlando theme park 11 to 14 September.

The LGBTQ+ summit’s chief marketing officer Michael Chamberlain confirmed the news to the Miami Herald.

Walt Disney has long had a relationship with Out & Equal – it is listed as one of seven “Titanium partners” alongside companies including, Apple, Dell, Bank of America and Uber.

But the timing of its hosting the summit will certainly be interpreted as a shot against Ron DeSantis, who has clashed with Disney over his anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Disney characters in front of the magic kingdom.
Disney World. (Getty/China News Service)

Walt Disney World, a major employer in Florida, has historically been encompassed by a special district which gives Disney self-governing powers.

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In February, DeSantis signed a bill giving him the power to replace the district’s board, packing it with conservatives. He’d previously moved to strip Disney of its governing power after it spoke out against his Don’t Say Gay law.

As he signed the bill, DeSantis, who is seen as a contender for the presidency in the 2024 election, said: “There’s a new sheriff in town.”

The New York Times reported that having the governor appoint the district’s controlling board could leave Disney vulnerable to being forced into paying to fund roads outside the district, as well as increased construction costs inside.

Disney’s feud with Ron DeSantis

Disney became embroiled in a feud with GOP lawmakers over Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law

The company initially came under fire for failing to take a public stand against the measure – which bans discussions of LGBTQ+ issues in Florida schools – and for donating money to Republicans pushing the bill

The move resulted in mass walkouts of Disney’s LGBTQ+ staff and allies as well as condemnation from celebrities and advocates around the world. 

After the resulting backlash, Disney denounced the legislation and said it would pause all its political donations in Florida

Florida governor Ron DeSantis wears a suit and tie as he speaks with his mouth wide open. The red and white stripes of the US flag can be seen in the background
Ron DeSantis. (Getty)

Disney vowed to fight for the LGBTQ+ community by getting the controversial legislation “repealed” or “struck down in the courts” after DeSantis signed the bill into law in March 2022. 

In response, DeSantis said the company had “crossed the line”, and he has continuously labelled Disney as “woke”

DeSantis has continued to target LGBTQ+ rights. In Florida, it is now illegal to provide gender-affirming care to young trans people. DeSantis also appears to be lining up a broader attack on drag performers, and has proposed extending the Don’t Say Gay law so that it covers a wider age range.

On 22 March, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the proposal as “wrong”.