World Bank

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Does the World Bank think that your sexual orientation can be cured? Well, maybe not officially, but that’s not stopping the World Bank from funneling money to an organization that not only tries to convert people from homosexuality to heterosexuality, but also has ties to Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill. Perhaps the World Bank is adjusting their mission statement: “Working for a World Free of Poverty … and Free of Gay People.”

As Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner writes, the World Bank has allowed a controversial ex-gay group — Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) — to join the ranks of its Community Outreach Program, a workplace-giving campaign that allows employees of the World Bank to give money to an organization, and have that money matched by a contribution from the World Bank. Depending on how many employees decide to give money to PFOX, the World Bank will give anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent in a matching donation.

Cohen CuddleWhich means that in the months ahead, the World Bank will be giving money directly to an organization that believes homosexuality can be cured. On top of that, as Truth Wins Out notes, a former PFOX board member, Richard Cohen (who still serves as a therapy guru to the organization), was intimately involved in efforts to create legislation in Uganda that would punish homosexuality with the death penalty or life imprisonment.

And it gets even shadier. The director of PFOX’s Speakers Bureau, Abba Goldberg, is a convicted felon who was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for bilking poor communities with bond schemes. And PFOX has also had its tactics condemned by the worldwide psychological and medical profession, with leaders from the organization being thrown out of professional groups like the American Counseling Association for violating ethical protocols.

Wow, if the World Bank is willing to lend credence to an organization like PFOX, what does it say about their overall credibility? For the World Bank, it looks like corporate social responsibility equals corporate endorsement of curing gay people.

What’s also particularly troubling about the World Bank’s endorsement of PFOX is that it looks like the Bank made an exception in order to squeeze PFOX under its Community Outreach Program guidelines. Under those guidelines, a qualifying organization is supposed to have “a substantial local presence in the Greater Washington metropolitan area.” But a 2009 report by the Washington City Paper revealed that PFOX has no presence in D.C.; moreover, the organization’s headquarters are in Reedville, Virginia — a whopping 127 miles from Washington, D.C.

“It is factually incorrect to say that PFOX has a ‘substantial local presence in DC’”, said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Either PFOX is committing fraud against the World Bank, or they are receiving special rights from the organization and inexplicably allowed to pass as a local organization.”

The World Bank has some serious explaining to do, Lucy. Of course, if you listen to World Bank spokespeople, they say that their support of PFOX shouldn’t be considered an endorsement of PFOX’s work. And if you believe that, I think there’s a bridge in Alaska that’s for sale, too.

“‘Because Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) met the minimum criteria for inclusion on the Community Connections campaign, they were included this year,” said a spokesperson for the World Bank, according to Metro Weekly. Ah, such bureaucratic speak for such a serious issue.

Send the World Bank a message that their decision to include PFOX in the Community Outreach Program is as offensive as it is tactless. This is an organization that uses manipulation and discredited psychological tactics to “cure” people of their sexual orientation, has ties to an anti-gay bill in Uganda that could wipe out an entire population of gay people, and who has a leadership that includes people with shady criminal ties. Is that really the type of “charity” the World Bank wants to lend credence to?

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