Story at a glance
- In the last year, Amazon customers have donated $215 million to charities through AmazonSmile.
- A new report reveals that these charities include dozens of U.S.-based anti-LGBT groups.
- The company has policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation and pledged to be an advocate for the community.
It’s getting easier and easier to donate these days, but harder and harder to find out where your money’s going. Whether it's at the checkout counter, when an employee asks if you want to round your total up to some cause you’ve never heard of, or online, such as through AmazonSmile, which allows users to generate donations and donate products as they shop.
Eight of these groups, according to the open Democracy investigation by authors Lou Ferreira and Claire Provost, have been partners of the controversial World Congress of Families network. Another is a “state affiliate” of the American Family Association (AFA). Both are considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as “anti-LGBT hate groups.”
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“Charitable organisations must meet the requirements outlined in our participation agreement to be eligible for AmazonSmile. Organistions that engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities are not eligible," an Amazon spokesperson told openDemocracy, adding that the company relies on federal records and the SPLC for such data. "If at any point an organisation violates this agreement, its eligibility will be revoked.”
This isn’t the first time Amazon has been criticized for allegedly failing to enforce its policies. The company has removed both Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Family Research Council (FRC) from its Smile program after similar anti-LGBTQ+ behavior.
“Companies, if they really walk the talk, shouldn’t be giving their platform to organisations that are working to limit the rights of other people,” said Evelyne Paradis, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group ILGA-Europe, in the report.
A few others identified in the report are: Focus on the Family, which has been criticised by the SPLC for its anti-LGBT views, Human Life International (HLI), which has called on people to “oppose the LGBT movement” and claimed that homosexuality is linked to paedophilia, and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is led by President Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow and has intervened in numerous U.S. court cases opposing LGBT+ marriage equality.
Oh and one more, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, whose president, Franklin Graham, has called Satan the architect of same-sex marriage and Islam “evil” and “wicked,” the report noted.
Ferreira and Provost identified several major actions by companies registered with AmazonSmile that seem to contradict the company’s past pledges of non-discrimination and inclusion of LGBT+ people. These include:
- “intervened in numerous court cases in the US and internationally opposing same-sex marriage, adoption and anti-discrimination laws”
- claimed homosexuality “opens the door to the demonic realm” and legalising same-sex marriage “enforces” a “demonically driven, immoral agenda”
- described COVID-19 as “the consequential wrath of God” and punishment for sins including society’s “proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality”
- attacked TV shows (including American Idol) for increasing “social acceptance of homosexuality” by presenting LGBT people to viewers “as ordinary folks”
- threatened staff members with immediate, “involuntary termination” if they are found to personally express support for same-sex marriage equality.”
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