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Trump administration hands $500,000 of federal funds to anti-LGBT group Hookers for Jesus

Nick Duffy February 11, 2020
Trump administration hands $500,000 to anti-LGBT Hookers for Jesus

US Attorney General William Barr (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Trump administration is under fire after awarding $500,000 in federal funds to Hookers for Jesus, a religious anti-LGBT group.

Reuters revealed that the US Department of Justice has opted to overrule the decision recommended by an independent review in order to strip $1 million in funding from two long-established nonprofits and reallocate them to religious conservative groups.

Hookers for Jesus awarded federal funding.

Hookers for Jesus, an Arizona-based evangelical non-profit group that lobbies for the continued criminalisation of sex work, was selected to receive $530,190 in from the federal anti-human trafficking grant programme over three years.

The group runs an Arizona “safe house” for women that has strict conduct rules in line with the beliefs of founder Annie Lobert, requiring residents to attend church and even banning the reading of “secular magazines with articles, pictures, etc. that portray worldly views/advice on living, sex, clothing, makeup tips”.

The staff training manual also describes homosexuality as “immoral”, the news agency reports.

The Department of Justice allocated funding to 'Hookers for Jesus'
The Department of Justice allocated funding to ‘Hookers for Jesus’ (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

$549,345 in funding has also been awarded to the Lincoln Tubman Foundation, which was launched by Brooke Burris, the daughter of a wealthy Republican and Trump supporter, and is located in a mansion owned by her parents.

Reviewers found the group  has “little to no experience” in dealing with trafficking, according to the report.

Groups stripped of funding had opposed Trump on immigration.

By contrast, the two groups that lost funding – Chicanos Por La Causa and the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Palm Beach – have long-established track records and were rated highly by outside reviewers, but have previously run counter to the Trump administration on immigration and other issues.

Reuters reports that a whistleblower complaint was filed in December over the funding decisions with the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector general.

The Trump administration has previously issued a directive giving vast new protections to federal contractors free range to discriminate against LGBT+ people, overturning Obama-era policy on the issue.

The guidance  instructed staff that “broad freedoms and anti-discrimination protections… must be afforded religion-exercising organisations” in receipt of federal funds, and that staff “cannot condition the availability of [opportunities] upon a recipient’s willingness to surrender his [or her] religiously impelled status.”

LGBT+ groups said the provisions opened the door for faith groups to “use federal money to discriminate against people” based on their sexuality.

More: Donald Trump, Hookers for Jesus, Justice Department

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