Disney settles Florida dispute after ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill backlash

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Disney Florida Agreement LGBT+ Dispute

In a notable development on Wednesday, March 27, Disney successfully reached an agreement with the State of Florida regarding the management of the site that hosts one of its theme parks. This settlement comes as a result of a dispute initiated by Governor Ron DeSantis following the company’s criticisms of his anti-LGBT+ policies.

A Resolution After Prolonged Legal Battles

The conservative Republican Governor and the American corporate giant, Disney, a significant employer in the region with its Disney World theme park in Orlando, have been locked in a legal confrontation since 2022. This clash was sparked when the company faced penalties from the Governor.

“We look forward to collaborating with Disney, with this agreement which I believe is comprehensive and significant,” stated Charbel Barakat, Vice President of the Board appointed by Ron DeSantis, upon announcing the agreement during a meeting.

Jeff Vahle, President of Walt Disney World, expressed relief in a statement, saying, “We are pleased to resolve all ongoing litigation in the courts of the State of Florida.”

According to Vahle, the agreement “serves the interests of all parties involved by allowing for continued significant investments and the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs” within the state.

The Catalyst for Dispute

Disney had drawn the ire of the Republican Governor by condemning a proposed law that would limit teaching on topics related to sexual orientation in Florida’s primary schools.

In response, Ron DeSantis revoked Disney’s special status in the state, eliminating benefits the Disney World theme park had enjoyed since the 1960s. This special status had provided Disney with numerous advantages, including administrative facilities, self-management of the site, and favorable borrowing terms.

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Future Legal Challenges Remain

While this agreement resolves state-level lawsuits between Disney and the board appointed by Ron DeSantis, both parties still face a legal battle in federal court.

Disney recently appealed a court decision that dismissed its lawsuit against the Republican Governor, accusing him of conducting a targeted “campaign of vengeance” against the company. The company has requested the court to pause this case temporarily to allow for new negotiations following Wednesday’s agreement announcement.

Ron DeSantis, a figure of the American hard right who withdrew from the Republican presidential primaries in January, has gained notoriety by implementing a series of controversial ultra-conservative measures concerning education, immigration, and LGBT+ issues.

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