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Asda ‘accidentally’ said it had painted its logo with the Pride flag to support… the NHS. The backlash was swift and severe

Josh Milton June 5, 2020
Asda initially claimed its rainbow-coloured logo was to show support for the British health service, stirring backlash. (Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Asda initially claimed its rainbow-coloured logo was to show support for the British health service, stirring backlash. (Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Asda suffered stinging criticism Thursday (June 3) after a social media “mix-up” led to the retailer saying their rainbow-coloured logo was to show not to celebrate LGBT+ Pride month, but to “support for the National Health Service”.

Backlash erupted after a queer Twitter user asked why the British supermarket chain’s clothing line, George, was changed to the colours of the six stripe LGBT Pride flag and what it was doing to support the community this Pride Month.

An Asda Service Team employee than replied in a since-deleted tweet that the NHS has “adopted” the rainbow, “as you know… so our icons have changed to reflect and show our support for the NHS and all they do for our country”.

The comment immediately became a lightning rod for thunderous criticism. Some accused the company of “erasing” the queer community, while others, such as Dr Ranj, sought to differentiate the various new associations of the rainbow.

Reining in the backlash, Asda’s service team issued another tweet after deleting the previous one.

In the follow-up, they wrote: “Apologies for the reply, it was an honest mistake.

“For June we’ve turned our logos over to the colours of the Pride flag to show our support for the LGBTQ+ community as we’re passionate about continuing to celebrate Pride & raise awareness in our communities every year.”

An Asda representative told PinkNews that, for Pride Month, Asda has partnered with LGBT+ charity Diversity Role Models. They stressed that the original tweet was a “mix-up”.

Asda first collaborated with the charity, which helps LGBT+ youth bullied in schools, with a donation of £12,500.

This year, the company donated £100,000 for Pride Month to fund workshops around anti-LGBT+ bullying in schools as well as launching its “We are Proud” campaign.

Adam McCann, Diversity Role Models chief executive officer, said in a news release: “We are thrilled to partner with Asda and George for a second year.

“It has been inspirational to witness first-hand the business’ commitment to LGBT+ inclusion, not limited to one celebratory day, week or month but creating a long-term partnership.”

Asda suffers criticism after ‘mix-up’ leads it to claim rainbow logo is to support the NHS, not the LGBT+ community.

From eBay merchants making a quick buck, to Marks and Spencer sales and even public transit companies, many corporations have started to use the rainbow to signal support for healthcare providers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As the coronavirus continues to paralyse the nation, housebound families have been encouraging children to doodle rainbows to hang in windows to motivate medics on their way to work.

But some LGBT+ people worry that this new association of the rainbow will dilute the LGBT+ Pride flag’s historic meaning. During Pride Month many are also examining how brands show their support for the LGBT+ community when parades have been widely cancelled.

More: ASDA, coronavirus pandemic, NHS, Pride month

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