A branch of the Salvation Army will open up its shelter to LGBT homeless people for the first time in Canada.
Situated in Winnipeg, Canada, the shelter will provide room for up to fifteen people in its quarters, which were originally designed for refugees.
“I think it’s long overdue,” said Jacqueline Stewart, a bisexual woman who stayed at the Salvation Army while on her road to recovery from drug abuse to CBC.
Joined by her partner Tia Parmeter, the pair believe that the opening of the space “will save lives”.
Although the couple have entered a Salvation Army shelter before, they experienced homophobia during their stay, including a series of remarks that made them “not want to leave their room”.
It is with this in mind that Canadian LGBT organisation the Rainbow Resource Centre expressed their concerns about the conflation of helping out LGBT+ homeless people and the religion’s values.
“When an organization has had a negative history with the community, it’s the responsibility of that organization to change the perception within the community, and I’m not feeling like the Salvation Army has done that,” said Mike Tutthill, the centre’s executive director.
“Salvation Army does have a reputation of homophobia.”
Approximately 10.8 percent of Winnipeg’s homeless population identified as LGBT.
Another 23.1 percent of those under 30 identified as LGBT.
The Salvation Army has had a torrid history with the gay community.
Gay people are actively banned from serving as officers in the religion, and a branch of the centre in New York refused to serve transgender people.