Hidden Homophobia of The Salvos


pic by Mike Mozart

The Salvos, as always, are trying to weasel-word their way out of trouble again. That old Salt & Pepper interview, in which they appeared to call for the death penalty for gays, is doing the rounds once more.

Their reputation is already suffering thanks to revelations at the child sex abuse inquiry, and they have dropped way down the list of favoured charities in Australia. There’s a big hole in the big red bucket..

Club promoter Anthony Dynon got this response to his re- posting of the JOY interview on Facebook:

The Salvation Army Australia Hi Anthony, thank you for your supportive comments about the work of The Salvation Army. Please be assured The Salvation Army is not an organisation that is built on or promotes hate.
The Salvation Army sincerely apologises for any offence or hurt ca
used by these comments. The views expressed in no way align with The Salvation Army’s attitude to homosexuality. The views expressed are in no way consistent with what we believe or practice.
The Salvation Army swiftly condemned the comments when they were first made in 2012 by the individual who no longer in that role.
It is important to note, The Salvation Army is made up of many people from diverse backgrounds, including those who are LGBTIQ identifying and The Salvation Army provides services and welcomes all people without discrimination and without regard to their sexuality, gender, race, age or political beliefs.

At first glance it all sounds very nice. At the time of the interview the Salvos issued a statement which said:

“Salvation Army members do not believe, and would never endorse, a view that homosexual activity should result in any form of physical punishment. The Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine does not state that practising homosexuals should be put to death and, in fact, urges all Salvationists to act with acceptance, love and respect to all people.”

They issued a further statement saying they did not discriminate on the grounds of sexuality in any of the services they offer, or exclude anyone from worship, fellowship or service in on the basis of sexuality, or from serving or volunteering with The Salvation Army on the basis of sexuality.


All of which is true, and seems pretty good. Until you realise that there’s a catch. Homosexuality, as an ORIENTATION, is fine. But you must not ACT on it.

Same-sex sex is strongly disapproved of.  Yes, you can work for them, you can be helped by them, but you are excluded from becoming one of them unless you remain celibate throughout life. No sex at all. You cannot be a gay ‘soldier’ or ‘officer’ except at the cost of complete repression of your sexuality. You must deny a central component of your being. Until quite recently, they used to encourage conversion therapy. They no longer do so publicly.

That’s a pretty good definition of ‘homophobic’, in my book.

It gets worse. The Army worldwide has a long history of anti-gay activity, as detailed here.

The Australian branch is no better. They made a very strong – I would call it insulting – submission against equal marriage to the Senate inquiry. [Download the statement here.]

They said that amending the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples would be

“to tear down a foundational stone of society  . . . . would only add to the sense of brokenness and dislocation which already exists in Australian society. To suggest that the fundamental destruction of the foundational institution of marriage would in some way be a “celebration of diversity” is to completely misunderstand the nature of the institution of marriage.’

“Diversity and acceptance are encouraged within society, but always within appropriate limits decided upon and observed by the vast majority for the common good. To somehow suggest that the establishment of appropriate mores and laws for the common good is to infringe upon human rights is to see the issue from only one limited perspective and not through the lens of the greater, common good of society.”

In other words, in their view, treating LGBTI people as equal citizens is tantamount to wrecking Australian society.

You don’t get much more homophobic than that.


Please DO NOT donate to the Salvos if you support LGBTI equality.

Please do NOT support the fundraising effort they are undertaking in partnership with Myer stores

And please remind Myer that their own Diversity Policy says:

“Myer is committed to creating a fair and inclusive work environment that embraces diversity at all levels and recognises its contribution to Myer’s commercial success.

“Diversity encompasses differences in backgrounds, education and life experiences. It includes factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, religious or cultural background, language, marital or family status, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.”

How can they square that with a partnering with a homophobic organisation like the Salvos?

I too acknowledge that they do much good work, which will be all the more needed now that the Abbott government is hellbent on unleashing Scott Morrison on the poor, destitute and homeless, in an attempt to harry them into jobs that don’t exist.

But there are other, less judgemental secular charities we can support. I urge all LGBTI people to seek one out.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)