Union Gospel Mission Serving the LGBTQ2S+ Community
Occasionally we at Union Gospel Mission get questions from the public about our LGBTQ2S+ community in Metro Vancouver. We appreciate these questions, because it provides an opportunity for us to be clear about our policies and practices.
You may have heard of other organizations called ‘Union Gospel Mission,’ both across Canada and the United States, facing criticism because of their practices around LGBTQ2S+ communities. Please note that we are separate and act independently from other Union Gospel Missions across North America. At UGM Vancouver, we do not align our policies with the other independent organizations on this issue, even if they happen to have a similar name.
At Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver, we provide all our services without discrimination. That is in the first line of our mission statement. We have LGBTQ2S+ community members who have come here for years, and others who are newcomers. When it comes to employment practices: we do not make staffing decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity. We have incredible and beloved staff, both past and present, who are part of the LGBTQ2S+ community. It goes without saying that all people must always be absolutely welcomed and cherished.
We base our practices and policies firmly in a foundation of love, which includes acceptance and celebration—not just tolerance—of marginalized people and groups. We are a faith-based organization and make our collective beliefs clear in our statement of faith. Beyond this, we have no theological or religious positions on sexual orientation or any other topics, except to say that we do not, in any way, accept anti-LGBTQ2S+ discrimination. Our primary goal is to transform communities by overcoming homelessness, poverty, and addiction—one life at a time. In order to do this, we must reject discrimination and embrace love.
We acknowledge that many members of the LGBTQ2S+ community have faced terrible stigma, rejection, discrimination and even violence, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We consider this discrimination a terrible injustice, which has been shown to contribute to homelessness. It must also be acknowledged that sometimes this pain has come from the actions and attitudes of religious organizations, a fact that brings sorrow to our hearts and requires deliberate action.
At UGM Vancouver, we take actions to ensure our LGBTQ2S+ community feels welcomed and safe, and will outline just a few examples: we provide gender-neutral washrooms; if a shelter guest feels they may face harassment from other members of the wider community because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we take steps wherever we can to accommodate their unique needs to ensure dignity, safety or privacy. Furthermore, our staff members must comply with policies that both forbid discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and also require operating ethically, seeing everyone as extremely valuable, and treating every member of our community with respect and dignity. Unacceptable conduct could result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
We take this seriously. We hope this post clarifies any questions, as we continue to work towards our ultimate goal of overcoming poverty, homelessness and addiction – one life at a time.
For more information, please email [email protected]