Retail giant Wal-Mart, has withdrawn its corporate support for LGBT organisations.
The move comes just a year after Wal-Mart joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, an organisation that helps promote the growth of LGBT owned or friendly organisations.
The company was responding to pickets and threats of boycott by conservative Christian groups.
Mona Williams, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of corporate communications, citied the companies introduction last year of a policy not to give support or opposition to ‘controversial’ causes.
Yet critics of the company accuse Wal-Mart of defining these causes according to a specific right-wing agenda.
Paul Blank, Campaign Director of WakeUpWalMart.com, an action group protesting about what they see as Wal-Mart’s erosion of American worker’s rights, believes that this recent action is just another example of the company’s rapacious desire to place profits over people.
“Wal-Mart should be ashamed that it would define its support for the GLBT community as ‘highly controversial,’ while it ignores its explicit support for right-wing George Bush-style Republicans whose policies have cost America middle class jobs, worsened our health care system, helped poison our environment, and blindly support failed strategies in Iraq.
“The time has come for Wal-Mart, if they truly believe in the best of American values, to realize that every one of its workers, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, or religion, deserve to be treated fairly.”
But while some gay Wal-Mart employees have spoken out, calling the move a “slap in the face”, other members of the LGBT community continue to place their faith in the company.
Out Equal, an organisation ‘devoted to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the workplace’, received $60,000 from Wal-Mart before their change of heart.
“Wal-Mart continues to engage on the issue of worker equality, and we will support them in that,” says Selisse Berry, Out Equal’s executive director.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint, and so long as Wal-Mart keeps its doors open, we hope to give them encouragement.”
Supermarket chain ASDA, which has over 300 stores in the UK, became a subsidiary of WalMart in 1999.