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Lawsuit accuses US government of undoing LGBTIQ civil rights

A new lawsuit against the US Department of Health and Human Services has accused the government of systematically attacking LGBTIQ people over its intention to scrap anti-discrimination protections.

The Trump administration in November issued a proposal to reverse a 2016 Obama-era rule prohibiting discrimination in Department-funded grants, worth a total of around $500 billion to organisations across the US that provide services from homeless shelters to aged care.

The new rule would also permit federally funded organisations to turn away LGBTIQ people based on religious beliefs – similar to the religious discrimination bills being debated in Australia.

The lawsuit has been filed by civil rights group Lambda Legal and non-profit organisation Democracy Forward on behalf of the LGBTIQ advocacy groups True Colors United, SAGE, and Family Equality, NBC News has reported.

A report published last year by the bipartisan US Commission on Civil Rights said the Trump administration is “undoing decades of civil and human rights progress”, particularly in relation to LGBTIQ rights.

Puneet Cheema of Lambda Legal said that the government’s proposed new rule will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable within the LGBTIQ community, during the COVID-19 pandemic more than ever.

“Youth who are experiencing homelessness, seniors who have difficulties accessing healthcare generally, they may have heightened need for care and heightened vulnerability in this epidemic,” she said.

“LGBTQ youth [are] already more vulnerable because of discrimination.

“They have a right to get services that are free of discrimination.

“They have a right to shelter without being subject to verbal harassment.

“They have a right to loving and affirming families, all of which is at risk.”

The lawsuit has accused the government of systematically attempting to erode LGBTIQ rights and protections in the US.

Cheema called the “infuriating” move “another example of the Trump administration turning its back on LGBTQ people” and “flouting the rule of law.”

Anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTIQ people vary across the US, with no explicit protection at the federal level.

Under the Trump administration, acceptance of discrimination against minorities seems to have intensified, exemplified by numerous ‘bathroom bills‘ seeking to ban trans people from using the correct bathroom for their gender.

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