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Statement Regarding the Establishment of US Department of Health and Human Services Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the Office of Civil Rights

"THE GOAL OF THE OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS SHOULD BE TO ELIMINATE DISCRIMINATION, NOT ENABLE IT."Statement from Wendy Stark, Executive Director, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center

The guiding principle in medicine is to “do no harm” and removing protections for those seeking medically necessary care will indeed cause patients harm.

As one of the largest providers of LGBTQ healthcare in the world, we know firsthand that LGBTQ folks overcome tremendous obstacles to access affirming healthcare, and creating more obstacles under the cover of religious freedoms is unconscionable. The goal of the Office of Civil Rights should be to eliminate discrimination, not enable it.

This move will disproportionately affect transgender, non-binary and lesbian, gay, bisexual people, people living with HIV, women and people of color, who already report high levels of discrimination in healthcare settings.  Discrimination in healthcare is directly linked to poorer health outcomes.  The Department of Health and Human Services will be increasing already reprehensible health inequities in the United States with this action.

Further, our communities face disproportionately high rates of suicide and high burden of HIV and other preventable conditions. In the face of this threat to the ideal of healthcare as a right and not a privilege, Callen-Lorde will continue to model and advocate for health equity and justice for all.