Is IKEA wrong to promote anti-gay magician?

In the fallout over its tie-in with a homophobic magician, the Swedish furniture chain has hit back saying people are entitled to their opinions. Is the company wrong or right?

Is IKEA wrong to promote anti-gay magician?

The Singapore operation of an international furniture giant will continue to promote a show by a magician who previously publicly slammed homosexuality, despite being criticised since advertising the event last week.

IKEA Singapore yesterday announced it would continue supporting a magic show by Pastor Lawrence Khong, who has said publicly he viewed homosexuals as having "a shorter lifespan, more sexually transmitted infections and more health problems than the general population".

In January 2013 he issued a statement to ex-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong against repealing Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises homosexuality.

Facebook users on both sides of the argument took to the forum to wage a war with words, until IKEA Singapore yesterday posted a status confirming they would not pull the pin on the show.

“As a company, IKEA Singapore respects the diversity and equality of all people living in our community,” IKEA Singapore’s assistant marketing manager Sandra Keasberry said in a statement.

“We also respect that all individuals have a right to their opinions and personal choices, including the freedom to choose their preferred entertainment.”

Diversity is something the company – internationally – has received recognition for.

IKEA US received a score of 90 on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which reports on corporate policies and practices relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workplace equality.

IKEA US programs which benefit the LGBTI community include the extension of benefits to spouses and domestic partners (such as health/medical insurance and employee discount) and pre-tax benefits for same sex married couples.

The IKEA iWay (Supplier Code of Conduct) also states suppliers shall not discriminate with regard to workers based on race, religion, gender, marital or maternal status, age, political affiliation, national origin, disability, sexual orientation or any other basis.

Head of IKEA US human resources, Jacqueline DeChamps, said IKEA is a company where diversity and inclusion a part of everyday business.

"Every co-worker is valued and respected; and we meet our customers, develop our co-workers, and cooperate with our business partners with these values.”

HRC president Chad Griffin said the Corporate Equality Index was the gold standard of LGBT inclusion in the workplace.

“When companies take part it shows they are making a real commitment to treating their LGBT employees with equality and respect. No one should have to worry about being treated fairly on the job, especially on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and the CEI shows that, year after year, more and more companies are creating truly welcoming workplaces for all.”

IKEA Singapore was approached for comment on this story but did not respond before press time.

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