Amazon blocks anti-LGBT hate group from charity ‘Smile’ program

Amazon has come under fire from anti-LGBT activists after it blocked a listed hate group from taking part in a charity scheme.

The tech giant’s AmazonSmile scheme allows charities to receive a small portion of the proceeds of sales made via the site.

However the Alliance Defending Freedom, a US-based Christian group that frequently brings lawsuits aiming to undermine LGBT rights protections, is furious to be excluded from the platform.

The ADF has opposed same-sex weddings, gay adoptions, civil unions, and even the repeal of Sodomy laws, strongly opposing the 2003 Supreme Court decision to strike down state laws banning gay sex. It was caught waging a campaign to keep gay sex illegal in other countries.

Amazon opted to ban the group from the platform after being made aware that it was listed as a hate group by extremism watchdog the Southern Poverty Law Center.

(Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The ADF responded by accusing Amazon of religious discrimination.

In a letter to Amazon, the ADF’s Michael Farris said: “We were surprised and disappointed to learn that you have terminated the participation of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and ADF Foundation in the AmazonSmile program.

“Even more concerning is your reliance upon the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to make that determination.

“ADF is a faith-based organization and the world’s largest legal organization advocating for the freedom to peacefully speak, live, and work according to one’s convictions without fear of government punishment.

“Our organization is well respected in the legal profession as one of the nation’s most successful Supreme Court advocates.”

(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Farris added: “If you are going to rely on a discredited partisan organization like the SPLC to determine who is eligible to participate in AmazonSmile, you should disclose that in your policy and to your customers.

“Millions of Americans share our beliefs and thousands of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious organizations subscribe to them as well.

“Your customers have a right to know that you’ve placed such an organization as the gatekeeper to participation in a
charitable program.”


Farris continued: “We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with Amazon officials to discuss our organization and explain why we should not be excluded from the AmazonSmile program.

“Also, we would gladly help Amazon establish a policy for participation in AmazonSmile that does not ban legitimate, well-respected, faith-based organizations like ADF.”

The group was also invited on Fox News to hit out at Amazon and the SPLC, where it was not asked about its anti-LGBT work.

The ADF recently argued in court that it was legal for a funeral home to fire a transgender employee because of ‘religious freedom’.

The employer, who was provided free legal representation by the ADF, claimed in court briefs that his actions were protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 US law that bolstered protections for people based on ‘freedom of religion’.

He claimed his transphobic actions were protected because he “sincerely believes that the Bible teaches that a person’s sex is an immutable God-given gift”, and that he would be “violating God’s commands if he were to permit one of the Funeral Home’s funeral directors to deny their sex while acting as a representative of the organization”.

The US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit rejected the claims.