NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -
Ford Motor Co. faced sharp criticism from gay and lesbian advocacy groups for agreeing to stop advertising in gay-themed publications in the face of a boycott by the conservative American Family Association, according to a report Tuesday.
The AFA launched a boycott of Ford (Research) in May to protest marketing aimed at gay and lesbian consumers, the Detroit News said. The automaker responded by promising that most of its brands, with the exception of Sweden-based Volvo, will no longer target gay consumers through advertising.
After Ford's concession, gay and lesbian organizations argued that the automaker caved in to pressure from the religious right, the paper said.
"We are deeply dismayed that Ford has entered into a confidential agreement with the extremist American Family Association that requires Ford to stop advertising in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media," a group of 17 gay and lesbian organizations said in a joint statement, according to the paper.
"If there is an agreement with AFA, we expect Ford to disavow it. We expect Ford to publicly reaffirm its historic support for our community. And, we expect Ford to meet with LGBT representatives this week to resolve these concerns."
Ford said that it could market its products in a manner that was just as effective without offending consumers, according to the report.
"We reserve the right to advertise our brands and products wherever we think it makes business sense," Ojakli and Leitch wrote in a letter Monday to Suzanne Wait, head of Ford's gay and lesbian employee group, according to the paper.
Ford said its nondiscrimination policies covering employees, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural and physical differences, will not change.
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