Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United, issued the following statement after the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance on civil rights protections during COVID-19:
“Discrimination based on race, color or national origin is abhorrent and should, rightfully, be called out. But it is a poor sign of our nation’s health that the Office for Civil Rights felt the need to issue guidance reminding federally-funded health care providers that discrimination is illegal. It has been illegal for decades.
“It is even more alarming that the office narrowly tailored its guidance on discrimination, leaving out any directive to stop discrimination based on sex and religion, and is silent about discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Civil Rights Act, along with Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and three recent Supreme Court decisions, all make clear that the Office of Civil Rights should have included religion, sex, gender and sexual orientation to its list of protected classes.
“No one should have to worry about discrimination, especially when seeking vital health services. This is true under normal circumstances and particularly so during a pandemic.
“The Trump administration touts its plan to end the HIV epidemic, but it cannot do so without addressing all forms of discrimination, especially discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
“Simply put: Everyone who seeks care should get care. Anything less is a failure.”