Dozens of US-based anti-LGBT groups are fundraising on Amazon’s online donations platform – despite the company’s policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Amazon has emerged as one of the few winners during the coronavirus pandemic because lockdown, infection fears and the closure of physical shops have encouraged online shopping. The company has seen profits rise almost 50%, compared to last year.
“Experience feel-good shopping” is the slogan of the AmazonSmile programme, which enables customers to donate to charities as they shop online. Amazon says the programme has facilitated $215 million in such donations since its launch in 2013.
AmazonSmile’s Participation Agreement clearly states that eligible charities cannot “engage in, support, encourage, or promote: intolerance, discrimination or discriminatory practices based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age”.
However, openDemocracy research has discovered that more than 40 organisations listed on the US AmazonSmile platform publicly oppose LGBT rights and equality. Among them are groups that have:
- 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.
In response to openDemocracy’s findings, human rights activists said Amazon should remove these groups from its platform immediately.
“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.
It’s good that Amazon has a diversity of groups on its platform, she said, but “they shouldn’t be giving space to any organisation […] that is actively fuelling hatred and/or working against the rights of other people.”
Amazon has made numerous public pledges to non-discrimination and inclusion of LGBT people. For example, as an employer, it has, for several years, offered benefits to same-sex partners of its employees and covered transgender surgical procedures.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos accepted the 2017 National Equality Award from the US LGBT rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign. In 2012, he and his then wife publicly pledged $2.5m to the fight for same-sex marriage in Washington state.