The Human Rights Campaign has issued a scathing rebuke to Netflix.
For the first time in five years, the HRC excluded the streaming service from its list of “Best Places to Work” for queer people. The reason: Dave Chappelle’s comedy special The Closer, in which the comic made jokes about transgender anatomy and disparaged LGBTQ people.
“Given the harm experienced by transgender workers at Netflix as a result of the company’s handling of the release of The Closer, HRC has suspended Netflix’s Corporate Equality Index score and will not be rewarding it with a ‘Best Places to Work’ distinction in the 2022 CEI,” the HRC said in a statement.
Netflix responded with a statement of its own, saying it “respectfully disagrees” with the exclusion.
“While we have more work to do, we’ve made real strides on inclusion, including for our LGBTQ+ colleagues,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“For example, we offer comprehensive transgender and non-binary-inclusive care in our U.S. health plans as well as adoption, surrogacy, and parental leave for same-sex couples. And we’ve also worked hard to increase representation on screen. Netflix is the only major entertainment company to have commissioned and published independent research into diversity in our content so that we can better measure our progress.”
In an interview with NBC, Jay Brown, senior vice president of research and training at HRC, revealed that the LGBTQ-rights group had initially considered deducting 25 points from Netflix’s overall score before deciding on the suspension.
Since 2017, Netflix had scored a perfect 100 on the HRC’s “Best Places to Work” Index.
The controversy over The Closer began with release of the special back in October 2021. LGBTQ employees at Netflix staged a mass walkout and released harsh criticism of CEO Ted Sarandos, calling on him to pull the special from the streaming service. Sarandos and Netflix have thus far refused.
Chappelle, for his part, said he would agree to meet with trans activists to discuss his comments, though only if they viewed the special first and admitted that comic Hannah Gadsby isn’t funny.