More than 40 groups that vehemently oppose LGBT+ rights are fundraising on Amazon, despite the online shopping giant’s pledges to support equality.
An investigation by openDemocracy found that the US AmazonSmile platform – that lets Amazon customers donate to charities as they shop online – has hosted groups that have intervened in court cases opposing equal marriage, described COVID-19 as “the consequential wrath of God” and punishment for sins including society’s “proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality”, and attacked TV shows for increasing “social acceptance of homosexuality”.
Among the anti-LGBT+ group hosted on AmazonSmile are Focus on the Family, American Family Association and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Amazon has made record profits this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, with profits 50 per cent up on last year. It is unclear how much money the groups have raised using AmazonSmile, but Amazon says the programme has facilitated $215 million in such donations since its launch in 2013.
Human rights activists are now calling on Amazon to immediately take down the anti-LGBT+ groups.
Evelyne Paradis, executive director of the LGBT+ advocacy group ILGA-Europe, told openDemocracy: “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.”
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”.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, accepted the 2017 National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign in the US. In the UK, Amazon has proudly advertised its partnership with Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programmefor inclusive workplace environments and made repeated pledges in support of LGBT+ equality.
“It’s disappointing to see organisations that campaign against LGBT equality platformed on AmazonSmile,” said Robbie de Santos, associate director of campaigns and communications at Stonewall. “We have raised our concerns with Amazon and will continue our work until every LGBT+ person is free to be themselves worldwide.”
An Amazon spokesperson said: “Charitable organisations must meet the requirements outlined in our participation agreement to be eligible for AmazonSmile. Organisations that engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities are not eligible.
“If at any point an organisation violates this agreement, its eligibility will be revoked.”