But on Monday, Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards said that the American network would be reversing that decision.
It said: “The Crown Media team has been agonising over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision.
“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are."
The statement continued: “We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
In the previous statement, confirming the advert would be pulled, the channel said: “The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”
By Sunday evening, the network faced a fierce backlash on social media from LGBT+ charities and a number of celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres who tweeted: “Isn’t it almost 2020? @hallmarkchannel, @billabbottHC… what are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears.”
The LGBT+ advocacy group GLAAD also weighed in on the dispute, calling the decision to remove the adverts “discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming”.
“The true reason for Christmas is husband,” said Aidy Bryant as host of a mock dating show.
“I’m Emily Kringle for Hallmark, reminding you to stay straight out there.”
Following Hallmarks’s turnaround, the network has said it will be working with GLAAD to help “better represent the LGBT+ community” across its portfolio of brands.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, also released a statement following the network’s apology, stating that Hallmark’s decision to correct its mistake signalled a “major loss for fringe organisations whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine”.
“LGBTQ people are, and will continue to be a part of advertisements and family programming and that will never change,” Ellis said.
“GLAAD exists to hold brands like The Hallmark Channel accountable when they make discriminatory decisions and to proactively ensure families of all kinds are represented in fair and accurate ways.”
The Independent has contacted Zola and The Hallmark Channel for comment.
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