Model railway brand Hornby agrees to donate to LGBT+ causes after fierce backlash to Pride Month cash-in

Emma Powys Maurice June 4, 2021
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Hornby Pride Van

Hornby has come under fire after it released a Pride Van, but said it wouldn't be donating proceeds to any LGBT+ charities. (Twitter)

Model railway brand Hornby has rapidly backtracked and agreed to donate to LGBT+ causes after its rainbow “Pride van” was condemned as a hollow marketing ploy.

The new model unveiled at the start of Pride month features the six-colour rainbow flag with the words “Pride” and “love is love” – yet offered no proceeds to LGBT+ charities.

In a statement released on Thursday evening (3 June), the company apologised to the LGBT+ community and admitted “we have got this wrong”.

“Following the launch of the Hornby LGBTQ+ Pride Wagon on Tuesday we would like to say sorry!” the company said.

“We have got this wrong and deeply apologise – waving the flag is not enough. We must promote the LGBTQ+ community by donating the proceeds to the cause.

“So we now turn to you and ask where best within the community the proceeds should be donated. Again we apologise to everyone who was offended – this was of course never our intention and for that we are sorry.”

When it introduced the Pride van Hornby claimed the move was meant to “support” the LGBT+ community, but was later forced to admit that none of the proceeds were actually going towards LGBT+ causes.

“Please be advised we’re not donating any money at present but we’ll be keeping this in mind for the future,” the company said on Wednesday (2 June).

“We wanted to show our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community with this model alongside our existing Pride models and hope that it’ll be a benefit and encourage awareness. Thank you.”

The flimsy attempt at allyship immediately attracted a storm of criticism as the LGBT+ community urged Hornby to “either open your purse or don’t bother”.

“You’re showing zero commitment to anything other than your own bank account, and exploiting a marginalised and vulnerable group of people while you do it,” tweeted Harry Potter star Chris Rankin.

Model train fans quickly rose to Hornby’s defence saying there was no obligation to donate, particularly as 2020 was the first year in nearly a decade that the struggling company had turned a profit.

However, others hit back by pointing out that Hornby had managed to donate £40,000 to the NHS in April 2020 after it released a limited edition Captain Tom Moore and NHS Class 66 model.

The organisers behind the Progress Train initiative also weighed in, revealing that they had met with Hornby in February to discuss the Pride van idea. At the time they raised concerns about the lack of donation to an LGBT+ charity.

“We were assured by Hornby that donations would be made to an LGBTQ+ charity from the sale of their Pride-themed items, moving forward,” they tweeted.

The group said it was “really disappointing” to learn that Hornby had chosen not to make good on this promise.

“The LGBTQ+ community does not exist as a means for corporations to make a profit,” they said. “If you really wish to ‘support the community,’ the least you can do is donate to an appropriate charity.”

Thankfully Hornby has finally paid heed to the criticism. The company is now appealing to the LGBT+ community to share their suggestions for where they should donate funds by emailing [email protected]

“While the onus should not be on the LGBTQ+ community to do the legwork for them, this is at least an improvement on the earlier situation,” Progress Train said.

Related topics: Pride month

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