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Trump administration departments sued over alleged LGBT censorship policies

Nick Duffy March 2, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 1: (AFP OUT) President Donald Trump holds an African American History Month listening session attended by nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson (R) and other officials in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images)

The Trump administration’s Justice Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development are being sued after failing to disclose their anti-LGBTQ policies.

It was reported last year that under the guidance of the Trump administration, several US government departments had adopted policies which explicitly ban the mention of LGBT issues in federal announcements and programs.

In response, HUD reportedly pulled information relating to LGBT homelessness from its website, and dropped involvement in projects relating to LGBT housing discrimination and homelessness. Meanwhile, the DOJ removed references to LGBTQ youth from an annual initiative for sex trafficking victims

Right Wing Watch, a website run by progressive group People for the American Way, subsequently filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Justice Department and HUD, seeking the disclosure of documents relating to the decisions – but neither agency responded to the requests.

US President Donald Trump arrives with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

This week, PFAW filed a suit in a DC court, seeking to secure the release of the documents.

It says: “Because the Defendants have failed to comply with the applicable time-limit provisions of FOIA, People For the American Way is [seeking] judicial action enjoining the agencies from continuing to withhold agency records and ordering the production of agency records improperly withheld.

“The agencies should be ordered to release all records relating to or consisting of decisions or directives to remove references to ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning’ individuals from agency materials concerning efforts to combat problems of homelessness, discrimination, and sex trafficking.”

It adds: “Each of the Defendants is an agency subject to FOIA and must therefore release in response to a FOIA request any disclosable records and provide a lawful reason for withholding any materials.”

PFAW fellow Elliot Mincberg said: “There’s absolutely no reason why the these agencies should refuse to release these documents.

“The public has a right to know what directives are being handed down that resulted in LGBTQ people being written out of federal programs and activities.

“These under-the-radar changes can have a massive effect on the way our government works, and it appears Trump administration officials are trying to create secret agency laws in order to push their extreme agenda. That’s simply not permissible.

“We have a right to see these documents and we’re going to court to get them.”

Right Wing Watch’s  Miranda Blue added: “These reported actions were being taken quietly and without public announcement, raising the questions of who made the decisions, what the decisions covered, and whether agency staff had been directed to implement certain policies regarding programs affecting LGBTQ people without public knowledge.

“Although the deadlines for fulfilling these requests have long past, neither agency has produced any responsive documents.

“We have also recently filed a FOIA request with the Department of Health and Human Services regarding similar decisions to remove references to LGBTQ people from agency policies.”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has a long record of anti-LGBT beliefs.

More: Donald Trump, Gay, HUD, lawsuit, LGBT, Trump, US

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