More than 40 anti-LGBT organizations were found fundraising on Amazon's charity program - and Amazon won't say it if plans to remove them

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Amazon's website hosted anti-LGBT organizations as part of its Amazon Smile program. Ttatty/Shutterstock
  • Anti-LGBT organizations have been able to fundraise through Amazon's charitable donation program AmazonSmile, a new report from nonprofit Open Democracy says.

  • The program allows customers to donate to charities when shopping on Amazon.

  • This included one organization that said COVID-19 was the "consequential wrath of God" for behavior including "proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality."

  • AmazonSmile's participation agreement says organizations that promote hate and intolerance are not eligible for its program. When asked whether any of the groups identified in the report would lose their eligibility, Amazon declined to comment.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Dozens of anti-LGBT organizations have been able to fundraise through Amazon's charitable donation program AmazonSmile, according to a new report from Open Democracy.

This included one organization that described the COVID-19 pandemic as the "consequential wrath of God" for behavior including "proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality," Open Democracy said - although it didn't name the organization in question.

Open Democracy's research found that more than 40 US-based organizations that publicly opposed LGBT rights were listed on AmazonSmile, which allows Amazon customers to donate to charities when shopping on Amazon.

The entities identified by Open Democracy included organizations that intervened in international cases opposing same-sex marriage, adoption, and anti-discrimination laws.

Amazon's participation agreement for AmazonSmile precludes organizations which "support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities."

"If at any point an organization violates this agreement, its eligibility will be revoked," an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider, adding that since 2013 the company has been steered by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on what should count as a violation.

Open Democracy presented its findings to Amazon to ask whether any of the organizations identified had broken the participation agreement. In response, an Amazon spokesperson reiterated the company's policy on eligibility.

A company spokesperson declined to comment when asked by Business Insider whether any of the organizations would have their eligibility revoked.

Open Democracy said that at least one of the organizations identified in its report is a state affiliate of an organization which is on the SPLC's current list of anti-LGBT hate groups.

Seth Levi, Chief Strategy Officer for the SPLC told Open Democracy: "We are not aware of other sources of information, if any, Amazon uses. We urge Amazon to ensure that none of its platforms, including retail, web services, and entertainment, are used to support and/or promulgate hateful and dehumanizing content, as well as disinformation that threatens the fabric of our democracy."

Of the dozens of organizations identified by Open Democracy, the nonprofit only contacted six. Of those six only one, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, replied.

A spokesperson for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said it was "grateful to participate in the AmazonSmile program" and it "does not engage in unlawful discrimination and we do not promote intolerance."

"We hope AmazonSmile will continue to respect the rights and dignity of all people, and won't discriminate against faith-based groups based solely on their sincerely held religious beliefs," the spokesperson said.

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association president Franklin Graham has previously said Satan is the architect of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, and recently attacked Pope Francis for "attempt[ing] to normalize homosexuality."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), another of the organizations contacted by Open Democracy, is headed up by Jay Sekulow - one of President Trump's key attorneys during his impeachment trial. Per Open Democracy, the ACLJ has "intervened in numerous US court cases opposing LGBT marriage equality."

"It's disappointing to see organizations that campaign against LGBT equality platformed on AmazonSmile," Robbie de Santos, associate director of campaigns and communications at the UK-based LGBT rights charity Stonewall, told Open Democracy.

De Santos added that Stonewall has contacted Amazon about the report. "We have raised our concerns with Amazon and will continue our work until every LGBT+ person is free to be themselves worldwide," he said.

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