(Photo by salvationarmynorth.org)

It’s Pride month! And with Victoria’s Pride Week less than a month away, it’s a great time to analyze our communities and ensure we’re making them as safe and inclusive of marginalized people as possible.

The Salvation Army is the largest direct provider of social services in Canada outside of the government. It also has a history rife with homophobia and transphobia. 

They organization has actively campaigned against legal protections for members of the LGBTQ community, like New Zealand’s Homosexual Law Reform Act in 1986 and Scotland’s repeal of Section 28 in 2000 which prohibited teaching about the acceptability of homosexuality.

In 2001, they requested exemption from local US laws that prohibit anti-gay discrimination. They’ve also posted links to “ex-gay” organizations on their website.

A leaked 2014 memo titled “LGBT issues in light of equality of marriage laws” denoted the Salvation Army’s discrimination when it came to LGBTQ people holding officer, leadership, and ministry positions. Officers could even be fired for attending a wedding between two people of the same gender.

Trans-exclusion

Transgender people in particular have suffered due to their exclusion from Salvation Army-run shelters that align with their genetic identity.

In 2008, Jennifer Gale died outside in the cold after being told that she would have to sleep in a men’s shelter in Austin, Texas.

More recently, in 2017, a substance abuse centre in New York was charged with gender identity discrimination under the NYC Human Rights Law.

They’ve performed physical exams on transgender patients, assigned rooms based on their gender assigned at birth, or even isolated them. As with Gale, some were turned away altogether.

Past should not be left in the past

All this is not to say that Salvation Army doesn’t do good work. However, for those inclined to say that all of this hate is in the past, the fact remains that the Salvation Army has made no moves to apologize for these heinous prior actions and stances.

If you’re looking for a thrift shop that supports the homeless, those in transitional housing, and others in need of social services, check out the WIN (Women In Need) and Beacon Community Centre shops.

In addition to these, Victoria hosts a number of locally-owned thrift shops that you can read about at this link.

Homelessness is an LGBTQ issue as much as it is a human rights issue. 20-40% of homeless youth in Canada identify as LGBTQ.

In order to truly support our communities, donate directly to charities that provide social services without the bigotry like The Trevor Project and the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition.

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