Disney and Viacom have said that they will not shoot future projects in Georgia if an anti-gay bill is signed into law by the state’s governor.
“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a company spokesman said Wednesday.
Marvel Studios – an arm of Disney – filmed Ant-Man and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in Atlanta, Georgia due to the state’s generous tax incentives.
The controversial bill, officially titled the Free Exercise Protection Act, says no minister can be forced to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony and no individual can be force to attend one.
This, critics point out, contravenes the First Amendment which “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”
The Free Exercise Protection Act also says that no faith-based organisation “shall be required to provide social, educational or charitable services that violate such faith-based organisations’ sincerely held religious belief” and that such organisations can’t be forced to “hire or retain as an employee any person whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith-based organisations sincerely held religious belief.”
Although not taking part in the planned boycott, AMC Networks which films The Walking Dead in Georgia has also called on Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the legislation, reports The Hollywood Reporter. “As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible. We applaud Governor Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well.”
Yesterday Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central, Paramount, VH1 and others, also called on the Deal to veto the bill. “Viacom is proud to champion diversity and acceptance, which are core values of our company,” said a company spokesperson.
“We have enjoyed doing business in Georgia for many years and we urge Governor Deal to continue to resist and reject the patently discriminatory laws being proposed.”
Both GLAAD and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) praised Disney’s decision to boycott the state if the bill passes. “We applaud Disney and Marvel for standing up for fairness and equality by sending a strong warning to Governor Deal,” said HRC president Chad Griffin.
The National Football League (NFL) have also stated that if the bill is signed into law it would affect the league’s decision to hold either the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl in Atlanta.
Governor Deal has until May 3 to decide whether to sign the bill or not.
© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.