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The Trump administration is unlawfully stopping discrimination protections for LGBT+ people, lawsuit claims

Josh Milton March 19, 2020
A lawsuit states that the Trump administration haw 'unlawful' plans to strip LGBT+ Americans of vital discrimination protections, threatening access to federally-funded services. (Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images)

A lawsuit states that the Trump administration haw 'unlawful' plans to strip LGBT+ Americans of vital discrimination protections, threatening access to federally-funded services. (Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images)

A lawsuit states that the Trump administration has ‘unlawful’ plans to strip LGBT+ Americans of vital discrimination protections, threatening access to federally-funded services.

The suit centres on a “notice of nonenforcement” rule issued by the Trump administration in November last year that would reverse an Obama-era rule within the Department of Health and Human Services.

If flipped, advocates warn, it will enable federally funded organisations to turn people away by claiming conflicts with religious beliefs and will revoke many services for LGBT+ people, from homelessness to child placement, NBC News reported.

Advocacy groups filed the suit to tackle what they call the “systemic efforts” of the Trump administration to “undermine the civil rights of, and non-discrimination protections for, LGBT+ people in the US.”

One that is simply “infuriating”.

What does the policy reversal mean?

It essentially means that federally-funded organisations that provide services such as child placement in adoption, elderly care or homelessness would be able to turn down LGBT+ people.

On what grounds? Religious.

The suit was filed by civil rights group Lambda Legal and nonprofit Democracy Forward on behalf of three LGBTQ advocacy groups — True Colors United, SAGE and Family Equality.

“In conflict with HHS’s established rules and policy, Defendants have engaged in systematic efforts to undermine the civil rights of, and non-discrimination protections for, LGBTQ people in the United States,” the suit states.

“HHS’s decision to walk away entirely from enforcing the still-valid 2016 Grants Rule is a glaring example.”

LGBT+ youth and elders lives on the line, warn activists. 

On the line is $500 billion HHS grant money which department administrators fund such organisations with.

Amid the current coronavirus pandemic, such finances are vital for the LGBT+ community, one of the most marginalised in vulnerable scions in the States.

“Youth who are experiencing homelessness, seniors who have difficulties accessing health care generally,” Puneet Cheema, an attorney working on the suit, said of the policy reversal.

“They may have heightened need for care and heightened vulnerability in this epidemic.”

But it is not simply young LGBT+ folk who will suffer, adults will, too, Cheema warned.

“LGBTQ older adults are already more economically insecure because of the lifetime of discrimination they have experienced,” Cheema explained.

“They have a right to age with dignity and HHS is denying them that.”

Within LGBT+ homelessness, “We immediately recognized it could cause a great deal of harm to young people,” True Colors United public policy and external affairs director Dylan Waguespack said.

Moreover, the groups argue in the suit, the November measure is yet another example of Trump officials prioritising “religious freedom” at the expense of LGBT+ rights.

More: Department of Health and Human Services, Donald Trump, lawsuit

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