Whereas once the Salvation Army was among the primary organisations battling against homosexual law reforms across the world, today its local branches are distancing themselves from long-held anti-gay views.
A Salvo’s storm erupted at the weekend when openly gay singer Darren Hayes tweeted this warning to his fans:
Important for gay people to know the true position of the salvation army when considering who to donate to. Sad. bit.ly/uhdf9w— Darren Hayes (@darrenhayes) June 14, 2012
His 61,000 followers give him some considerable clout – and word soon spread, with the tweet being shared 400 times within 48 hours.
Hayes’ concern was valid – although the Salvos’ statement makes clear it opposes “vilification of, or discrimination against, anyone on the grounds of sexual orientation,” it also adds:
Homosexual practice however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled.
Responding to the negative attention, the Salvation Army initially confirmed the position shown above but added that it sought to help people, especially marginalised people – and that includes gays and lesbians.
But this morning marriage equality campaigner Alex Greenwich heard from another local Salvation Army spokesperson who suggested that the organisation’s views on homosexuality and equality are certainly ‘evolving’.
The Salvos’ policy about gay people shown on its website represents an “outdated position” which was “under review,” and as for marriage equality, the Salvation Army contact Greenwich spoke to made clear there was actually a “wide range of positions about same sex marriage within the organisation.”
This appears to be a fast developing situation and we await further clarification from the Salvo’s soon.
Just last month over in New Zealand, the Salvation Army reiterated its apology to the LGBTI people it bullied and attempted to vilify during the heated homosexual law reform debate in the mid-1980’s.
“We regret and apologise for any hurt that may remain from that turbulent time, and our present hope is to rebuild bridges of understanding and dialogue between our movement and the glbti community,” the Kiwi Salvo’s stated. “We may not agree in the future on all issues, but we can respect and care for one another despite this.”