An oversight board appointed by the governor of florida, Ron DeSantissaid on Monday it will file a countersuit against Walt Disney Co in state court, according to prepared comments seen by Reuters.
The decision, which further escalates tensions between Disney and the state of Florida, comes in response to a lawsuit the company filed last week in federal district court against DeSantis and members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight board.
“As Disney has sued us, now we have no choice but to respond,” said its president, Martín García.
The fight began last year after Disney criticized a Florida measure that prohibited discussing sexuality and gender identity with younger children in classrooms. DeSantis, a Republican, repeatedly attacked what he called “woke Disney” in public remarks.
Florida lawmakers passed a law ending Disney’s virtual autonomy in the state, where its Disney World theme parks draw millions of visitors each year.
In its lawsuit, Disney accused DeSantis and his supporters of illegally using state government to punish a company for expressing an opinion that should be protected by the right to freedom of expression.
Garcia said the oversight board had nothing to do with enacting the legislation that Disney “has been complaining about” and is merely following laws enacted by the Florida legislature. As he stated, the junta’s actions were taken to promote the public good.
“The district will seek justice in state court here in central Florida, where both he and Disney reside and do business,” he added.
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