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Catholic bishops applaud Trump’s transphobic homeless shelter plot, forgetting what the Bible says about loving thy neighbour

Nick Duffy September 15, 2020
A homeless shelter. File photo

A homeless shelter. File photo (Scott Olson/Getty)

Catholic leaders have hailed proposed Trump administration rules that permit homeless shelters to reject women they believe to be trans — because, of course, the Bible doesn’t teach much about turning away people in need.

The US Bishops’ Conference has applauded the controversial rules proposed by Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson, which seek to reverse Obama-era equal access rules directing federally-funded homeless shelters to accommodate transgender people based on their gender identity.

Instead, Carson’s rule would empower providers to discriminate based on the notion of “biological sex”, which providers are permitted to guess based on a person’s “height, the presence of facial hair, the presence of an Adam’s apple, and other physical characteristics”.

In addition to enabling discrimination against trans women, there are fears that butch lesbians and women of colour, who are already disproportionately likely to be challenged over their gender in single-sex spaces, could be caught up under the policy.

But in a statement agreed on on Friday (September 11), the Catholic bishops claimed the rules were “a step in the right direction”.

Catholic bishops have praised the plan put forward by Ben Carson
Catholic bishops have praised the plan put forward by Ben Carson (Shannon Finney/Getty)

The bishops claim that the Obama-era protections for trans women had “impeded the ability of organisations participating in HUD programs to make housing placements appropriate to persons on the basis of their sex”.

The statement added: “By removing these impediments and by restoring the flexibility of organisations that provide housing to make admissions and accommodations decisions, the proposed rule furthers the laudable objective of enabling everyone to receive needed housing.”

The bishops have called for HUD to go even further and provide funding to organisations that flout state-level non-discrimination regulations, insisting: “The federal government should lead by persuasive example here… and not require adherence to state and local law with respect to shelters’ policies for determining sex and related decision-making.”

Homeless shelter discrimination plan is ‘an attack on the most vulnerable’.

Carson’s plan has been condemned by groups that work to support homeless people — especially given the disproportionately high rates of homelessness among all parts of the LGBT+ community, including gender non-conforming LGB people.

Dylan Waguespack of True Colors United, which advocates for homeless LGBT+ youth, told Vox:  “It creates unsafe conditions and unsafe barriers to housing and services for trans people in the midst of a global pandemic.

“[Carson is] on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the law. It’s critical that trans people across the US hear the message loud and clear that they are legally entitled to gender-appropriate homelessness services under the law.”

More: ben carson, Catholic, Homeless shelters, Transgender

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