The Salvation Army at the LCBO

For the month of December the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) has a deal with the Salvation Army allowing the Salvation Army to have people at the entrances and in the vestibule of LCBO stores to raise money with their kettles. The people who are there ask customers for donations. This is a problem as the Salvation Army is not a secular organisation. They are an evangelical Christian organisation that has an entrenched patriarchy, has worked in Canada, the United States, and around the world against LGBT equality, and has a record of treating LGBT people with disrespect and discrimination in their shelters. As such, I have written the following and submitted it to the LCBO using their online form at http://hellolcbo.com/app/ask 

Good day.

I am writing concerning the Salvation Army fundraisers at the entrances to LCBO stores in the month of December. I find this intrusion by a religious organisation in a public Crown Corporation to be unacceptable. The Salvation Army’s doctrine is explicitly against trans people, gays, and lesbians. As someone who works with the LGBT community, and specifically with trans people I have heard first hand descriptions of their discrimination. Trans women are often not permitted in their women’s shelters and if they are, they are ridiculed and face harassment from staff and residents. If a trans woman goes to a men’s shelter they are misgendered, misnamed, and not respected by staff and residents. Staff treat the person with disrespect and blame the person for being in the situation their in. The message, sometimes overt, is, “you chose this lifestyle and you are reaping the rewards.” As a trans woman I would not seek support from the Salvation Army except under extreme duress. I would not recommend their services to other trans people, or others who are of sexual or gender minorities.

You may ask, “Why do these people not file complaints?” The answer is simple. It’s their word against a large, powerful organisation. It’s their word against a staff member who can make their lives more miserable. It puts them at even further risk. Proving discrimination is not an easy task for those who are not requiring the services of a shelter and have financial stability. For those struggling to stay alive, living on the street, or living in poverty the engergy required is, in the vast majority of cases, too much. Finding someone to advocate on their behalf is next to impossible for them. The answer often heard is, “if you don’t like it go somewhere else.” Sadly, there usually isn’t somewhere else to go.

Further, the Salvation Army has had members speaking publicly in their role as Salvation Army officers call for the death of homosexuals. They have actively opposed human rights legislation and regulations that would require them to be non-discriminatory. Their website is a masterpiece in public relations designed to mask what happens in day to day practice.

Given that the LCBO is the only place to buy certain types of alcoholic beverages in the province of Ontario, it is necessary to go to the LCBO. Walking down the street we also see these Salvation Army people at the LCBO stores. I am calling on the LCBO to discontinue this relationship with a discriminatory organisation that is harming members of my community and people who are protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Sincerely,
Talia C. Johnson.

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