According to a report published by the UK-based activist group openDemocracy, Amazon is currently allowing dozens of anti-LGBTQ+ organizations to receive money through its charity platform.
The program, called AmazonSmile, was launched in 2013 and allows the site’s users to give 0.5% of proceeds from eligible purchases to a nonprofit of their choice. Currently, the program offers more than a million US-based nonprofits to choose from and has generated over $200 million since its inception. AmazonSmile’s agreement states that organizations that allow “intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities” are not eligible to receive any proceeds.
Two anti-LGBTQ+ groups — the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Center — were previously removed from the platform after complaints by human rights groups. But per the openDemocracy report, more than 40 organizations that can be supported by the AmazonSmile program still work openly against the LGBTQ+ community.
Some groups still being promoted on the platform despite anti-LGBTQ+ work include the Indiana chapter of the American Family Association, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The overall organization has supported anti-LGBTQ+ ideals like Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014 — which makes being gay punishable by life in prison — and opposed LGBTQ+ anti-bullying campaigns in US schools. Another organization still on AmazonSmile is the Family Leader, which has called being gay a “health risk.” Focus on the Family, which is also allowed to take proceeds from the program, has been called “one of the most well-funded anti-LGBT organizations in America” by the Human Rights Campaign.
“For many years, anti-LGBTQ groups like Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage have used their platforms to dehumanize LGBTQ people and spread hatred and misinformation about LGBTQ families,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis told NBC News. “While masquerading as ‘charities,’ these anti-LGBTQ organizations are shamefully taking advantage of a program meant to aid organizations that genuinely help vulnerable people.”
Amazon maintains that it “cannot guarantee the good standing and/or conduct of any charitable organization” and determines whether an organization can be listed as an eligible nonprofit for AmazonSmile by relying on the decisions of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the US Office of Foreign Assets Control. Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, called this an “imperfect system” at a Senate subcommittee hearing in July, but otherwise it appears no steps have been made to verify that the nonprofits actually follow the guidelines set in place.