Salvation Army under fire for homophobic practices


Kelsey Tice Nicholson

As the holiday season arrives, The Salvation Army donation buckets have begun to pop up on street corners and in front of supermarkets all over the country, with volunteers ringing bells and asking for donations. Black Friday brought these bell ringers out in spades, and this time, the organization has a goal of $125,000, which is more than a 50 percent increase of what was raised in 2017. However, many citizens have concerns over who the money is really supporting.

A viral post by @autodacryphilia on Tumblr has recently sparked debate about the ethics of the Salvation Army and their dealings with members of the LGBTQA+ community. The post claimed, among other things, that the Army has continued to discriminate against LGBTQA+ people by refusing housing to a homeless gay couple unless they separated, referring people to conversion therapy, and upholding a policy of not helping transgender people.

The Salvation Army has denied these claims, saying on their website,“People who come to us for assistance will be served according to their need and our capacity to help – regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.” They have even created a public relations campaign, called “Debunking the Myth,” to disavow any word that they are an anti-LGBTQA+ organization. This campaign, however, does not acknowledge their past discrimination, of which there are a number of incidents.

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church organization. Their mission statement is, “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God.” In the past, they have publicly stated their opinion that homosexuality is unacceptable, saying that it does not “conform to God’s will for society.” According to  The Huffington Post, these statements were removed from the Army’s website in 2016, but they have never acknowledged their past or apologized, only stating fervently that they are pro-LGBTQA+.

Now, it seems the Army has slapped what termed as a “gag order” on employees to not talk about LGBTQA+ issues. The guidelines for discussions in front of the red kettles was shared by Fox News pundit Todd Starnes. The guidelines instruct employees to stay away from speaking about “hot topic issues like LGBTQ marriage.” These instructions, both for personal interactions and online ones, come after an “increased number of complaints regarding comments made on social media by Salvation Army officers and staff,” according to Army personnel who reached out to Starnes.

The Huffington Post also revealed a timeline of the Salvation Army’s past anti-LGBTQA+ actions. In 1986, The Salvation Army of New Zealand opposed the Homosexual Law Reform Act, that would repeal the criminalization of sex between adult men, which they later apologized for.

In 1998, the United States Salvation Army turned down over $3 million in contracts with San Francisco that would have supported programs for senior citizens and homeless individuals because of the city’s requirement for city contractors to provide spousal benefits to both same-sex and opposite-sex partners. They also threatened the same action six years later for New York City based on the city’s non-discriminatory laws. In 2001, they began outlining a deal with the Bush administration that would ensure any religious charity that received federal funding would be exempt from local anti-discrimination laws, as they did not want to provide medical benefits to same-sex partners of employees.

In 2012, The Salvation Army of Burlington, Vermont fired employee Danielle Morantez upon discovering she was bisexual. The Army’s spokesperson later supported the decision, which was explicitly allowed as per the Army’s handbook, stating, “A relationship between same-sex individuals is a personal choice that people have the right to make. But from a church viewpoint, we see that going against the will of God.”

If you find yourself apprehensive about supporting and contributing donations for the Salvation Army, here are some LGBTQA+-friendly, NYC-based organizations without a history of discrimination you can donate to instead:

Housing Works

Not just a popular thrift store with locations all over the city, Housing Works has supported the homeless and those living with HIV/AIDS since 1982. The goal of their Housing Works AIDS-Free Campaign is to end the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020, 2025 in the United States, and worldwide by 2030. Those interested in donating can reach out online at or in stores. There is one close to the University on Crosby St.!

True Colors Fund

The True Colors Fund is dedicated to reducing the amount of homelessness that affects the LGBTQA+ community. Their website states, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people are 120 percent more likely to experience  homelessness then the non-LGBTQ youth. The True Colors Fund is committed to changing that.” The fund is co-founded by none other than singer Cindy Lauper, and they offer free training and resources on how to help LGBTQA+ youth experiencing homelessness. You can donate on their websites,, as a one time pledge or as a recurring supporter.  

Brooklyn Community Pride Center

Located just one borough away, this organization acts as a safe space for the LGBTQA+ community. Their goal is to provide “physical and mental health services, social support, recreational and cultural programming… thorough promotion of the empowerment, development, and general welfare of the community.” You can donate online at

Ali Forney Center

The AFC is dedicated to fighting the quickly growing LGBTQA+ homeless population, as well as “empower them with the tools needed to live independently.” The organization’s namesake, Ali Forney, was a gender-noncomforming teen that fled his house at just 13 years old. The system did not treat him kindly, and he was on the streets by the time he was 15, eventually losing his life on the streets of Harlem in 1997. The center was founded in 2002 by Carl Siciliano in Ali’s memory. The AFC runs a campaign called Homeless for the Holidays to give a voice to homeless LGBTQA+ youth. You can donate online at

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