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In a move that is typical of the Trump administration, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued this Tuesday a new “Final Rule” that encourages discrimination towards the LGBTQ community. 

The 77-page document issued by HHS rescinded Obama-era regulations, and the department now allows social service providers funded by the taxpayers’ money to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. According to Queerty, the rule will have extensive consequences as it can affect “anything from adoption services to housing services to elder care.” Read the document in full here.

Published in the Federal Register, the document argues that certain provisions dating back to the Obama administration violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Specifically, they are referring to the requirements that ask agencies to “refrain from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity and recognize same-sex marriages as legally valid,” NBC News reports.  

Meanwhile, Sasha Buchert, a Senior Attorney in the Washington D.C. office of the LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal, said in a statement: “Even as Trump administration officials abandon ship, HHS has announced yet another dangerous rule that invites discrimination against the very people federal grant programs are meant to help.”

On the other hand, Julie Kruse—Director of Federal Policy for Family Equality—an LGBTQ non-profit group, said that “the rule change is targeted at child welfare organizations.” The policy change, which will be enforced starting February 11, can have further significant impact as Fulton v. City of Philadelphia is currently being heard in the United States Supreme Court.  

According to ACLU, the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case could “allow private agencies that receive taxpayer-funding to provide government services—such as foster care providers, food banks, homeless shelters, and more—to deny services to people who are LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, or Mormon.”  

Further, Kruse said that the policy change “could also allow a homeless shelter to turn away a queer teen and a senior center to refuse to drive an elderly gay man to his doctor’s appointment.” While she is confident that the incoming Biden administration will reverse the new rule, Kruse says that “it does clog up the works; it does delay protections.” Read the story on NBC News here.

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