On June 16th, the Fenway Institute released a policy brief examining the current wave of legislation aimed at restricting access by LGBT people to healthcare and other essential services. The brief begins with a history of this type of legislation, commonly known as Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), and describes how the legitimate concept of “religious liberty” has been skewed and taken advantage of by anti-LGBT legislators. This unjust lawmaking has led to nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills filed in the first half of 2016 alone, many of which would allow healthcare providers to refuse to see LGBT patients. While these malicious bills have previously been focused on stifling marriage equality, the scope has shifted in part to healthcare in the wake of the Obergefell decision, which legalized same-sex marriage across the country in 2015.
This wave of anti-LGBT legislation threatens to undermine state and federal efforts to reduce pre-existing health disparities within the LGBT community. This brief urges states and the federal government to further clarify that this kind of anti-LGBT discrimination in healthcare is illegal. While provisions such as Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act aim to prohibit this kind of discrimination, these pervasive RFRAs intend to justify a refusal to comply. The brief also urges healthcare professional associations to speak out against these laws, making clear that these policies are against industry standards. Finally, it provides a roadmap for next steps that Family Equality Council can take to ensure that our families can receive the healthcare that they need. Read the brief in full here.
If you experience discrimination in a healthcare setting on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, do not hesitate to report it to the Office for Civil Rights at Department of Health and Human Services. To help in this process or any other healthcare discrimination proceeding, contact the ACLU LGBT Rights Project or Lambda Legal.