The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an organisation committed to advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, is contemplating the withdrawal of Anheuser-Busch’s perfect equality rating in response to the brewing company’s reaction to the outcry following their advertisement featuring popular TikTok personality Dylan Mulvaney.
Anheuser-Busch, known for its Bud Light brand, sent a single can of their beer to Mulvaney to commemorate her first year of being publicly trans, triggering a disturbingly negative response from consumers, leading to a drop in sales and a slew of public reactions, including customers breaking Bud Light bottles in stores, rock musician Kid Rock shooting Bud Light cans, and bars refusing to sell the product. Texas Senator Ted Cruz even hinted at investigating the company.
Anheuser-Busch CEO, Brendan Whitworth, addressed the controversy with a statement that has been criticised as being tepid, asserting that the company did not mean to provoke divisive debates, in turn resulting in several LGBTQ+ bars initiating their own boycott against Bud Light.
The HRC, which had awarded Anheuser-Busch with a 100% rating on their Corporate Equality Index for supporting LGBTQ+ employees, warned the brewer about a possible downgrade, with the advocacy group writing to Anheuser-Busch suspending its equality rating and giving it a 90-day period to respond, according to USA Today.
Eric Bloem, HRC’s Senior Director of Programs and Corporate Advocacy, expressed his disappointment: “Anheuser-Busch missed an essential opportunity to assert the significance of their diversity, equity and inclusion values, and their response was significantly inadequate.” Anheuser-Busch has yet to react to HRC’s letter.
This isn’t the first time HRC has taken such action; it suspended Netflix’s score on its Corporate Equality Index following the streaming giant’s handling of comedian Dave Chappelle’s comments deemed transphobic in 2021.
In the aftermath of the controversy, Dylan Mulvaney broke her silence, stating that while she’s okay, she doesn’t feel obliged to share her experiences as frequently. She spoke out about the distortions surrounding her online image. She explained her decision to return to social media, recalling that around 13 million people had once enjoyed her content enough to follow her.
Despite the uproar, a recent poll discovered that the situation polarised many Americans, with more than half of American beer consumers (53%) would view a beer brand positively if it partnered with a trans spokesperson.