Health care can be challenging for anyone these days, but getting the right services is especially daunting for the LGBTQ community, which has faced decades of discrimination and misunderstanding.
The creation last month of a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is raising concerns among some health care and legal experts who fear the new division will have a negative impact on LGBTQ patient care.
“My best advice is to keep Lambda Legal on speed dial,” said Ulysses W. Burley III, a physician and founder of UBtheCURE, a social justice consulting company with a particular focus on HIV and AIDS awareness. “They are committed to fighting any cases of discrimination related to the establishment of this new division in court,” he said.
The Conscience and Religious Freedom Division was created to “restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom,” according to an HHS news release. In that same news release, Roger Severino, director of the department’s Office for Civil Rights, said, “No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice.”