Asia’s LGBTQ-friendly automakers sing a different tune at home


Asia’s LGBTQ-friendly automakers sing a different tune at home

Hyundai, Subaru, Toyota get top scores on equality in the US for policies that don’t translate to their domestic markets

Bruce Einhorn, Kyunghee Park and River Davis

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Company has courted the American LGBTQ community for years, backing a film series in 2019 that featured Shangela — a breakout star of the reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race — and sponsoring the Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival for queer artists of colour. In April the company unveiled a 60-second commercial, Chosen Family, made by a gay-owned production company with a cast including drag queens and a male couple expecting a baby with a pregnant woman.

A longtime sponsor of Glaad’s annual media awards, Hyundai received a perfect score in this year’s Human Rights Campaign Foundation ranking of the best places for LGBTQ people to work. The company is “proud to partner with organisations that fight for LGBTQ rights every day”, said Angela Zepeda, chief marketing officer for Hyundai Motor America.

But while Hyundai may be out and proud in the US, at home in Korea — where discrimination against gay and transgender people is widespread — there’s little sign of forthright allyship or support for diversity from the carmaker. It doesn’t promote slick, uplifting commercials starring Korean LGBTQ performers and doesn’t offer high-profile sponsorships for Korean LGBTQ organisations...

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