Saturday, 23 Sep 2023

Anheuser-Busch loses top LGBTQ+ rating over its Bud Light response

Anheuser-Busch loses top LGBTQ+ rating over its Bud Light response

Last year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gave Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch a top rating for LGBTQ+ equality. But because of how the company handled backlash to a sponsored post by Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender woman, it's now off the list.

The organization informed Anheuser-Busch of its decision in a May letter viewed by CNN, after previously writing to the company in April, criticizing its response. USA Today first reported on the decision.

Bud Light's sponsorship of an April 1 Instagram post by Mulvaney set off a firestorm of anti-trans backlash and calls for a boycott. The company first responded with a straightforward explanation of its relationship with social media influencers like Mulvaney. But later it released a vague statement from the CEO that failed to offer support for Mulvaney or the trans community, and the company ended up angering pretty much everyone in the process. Bud Light sales dropped in the ensuing weeks.

"We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer," A-B CEO Brendan Whitworth said in an April 14 statement titled "Our Responsibility to America." Soon after the statement was issued, the company said that two marketing vice presidents had taken leaves of absence.

"When we saw the company working with Dylan, that was a good sign. It was a sign of inclusion," Jay Brown, SVP of programs, research and training at HRC, and the signatory of both letters, told CNN. "What we were really disturbed by was the company's reaction once the backlash started happening."

The statement and management decisions "raise considerable concern for the LGBTQ+ community," Brown wrote in the April letter, which was also seen by CNN.

"In this moment, it is absolutely critical for Anheuser-Busch to stand in solidarity with Dylan and the trans community," he wrote at the time. "However, when faced with anti-LGBTQ+ and transphobic criticism, Anheuser-Busch's actions demonstrate a profound lack of fortitude in upholding its values of diversity, equity, and inclusion."

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