Connect with us

homepage news

Biden administration rescinds global gag rule

LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS service organizations have, by-and-large, praised the Biden administration for the removal of the rule



Blade File Photo

WASHINGTON – President Biden on Jan. 28 axed the so-called global gag rule, a Reagan-era order that restricts U.S. funding and assistance to overseas organizations that offered abortions.

Also known as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, the rule prohibited groups that received public funding from the U.S. to offer abortion services or disclose relevant information related to the practice. This applied in countries where the procedure is legal, as well.

In the past, the rule restricted reproductive health and did not extend into other health sectors. But under the Trump administration, restrictions were taken a step further and expanded the barriers to all types of global health funding to non-U.S. NGOs. Because many organizations that provide HIV/AIDS resources also offer reproductive health services, LGBTQ people abroad saw limited access to care. The rule did not dictate what can be done with U.S. dollars, but who can receive the funding, said Beirne Roose-Snyder, the director of public policy at the Center for Health and Gender Equity.

Even if the organization used non-U.S. funds to provide restricted services or information, it would violate the policy, said Roose-Snyder. Also, if the foreign group that receives U.S. funds sub-grants funds to another organization that does not receive U.S. funding itself, the latter organization under the Trump expansion must also comply with the rule. 

“The policy poisons the whole foreign organization,” she said. “And it impacts not just what they can do with U.S. money, but it poisons everything they can do with everybody’s money.”

Health organizations abroad had a choice: Take much-needed funds, or bar themselves from providing essential health services, Roose-Snyder said. Nearly $9 billion in funding per year was affected, she said. 

“As the largest global health donor, we wield a lot of power,” she said.      

LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS service organizations have, by-and-large, praised the Biden administration for the removal of the rule.

“The policy shift will free up millions in U.S. global health funding, enable the US to rejoin the group of countries which champion sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide, and support life-saving health programs for communities in need,” wrote Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, in an emailed statement to the Blade.

Kimberly Frost, co-chair of ILGA North America and the Caribbean, said moving away from the gag rule is a sign the administration is “moving in the right direction.” 

“It is showing its commitment to supporting women in all their diversity to claim their rights; it is creating the conditions to properly fund access to sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services, in a ripple effect that would benefit also the HIV/AIDS response,” she said in an emailed statement.

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council on Global Equality, said this memorandum will allow HIV/AIDS programs to be more effective.

“Removing the global gag rule actually strengthens our programs, makes them more effective and brings us closer toward our overall goal of turning the page on HIV and AIDS as a global pandemic,” he said. 

The consequences of restrictions

Inevitable gaps in care due to organizational restrictions were “catastrophic” and “deadly,” Roose-Snyder said. At the time of its reinstatement, there was mass-messaging the gag rule would not disrupt access to healthcare abroad. This is a “fiction,” she said.

“Because if you have a gap in HIV prevention, the harm may be people becoming positive,” she said. “And that’s not a one time harm.”

The Center for Health and Gender Equity conducted a case study, Prescribing Chaos, on the effects of the gag rule in several countries, including Mozambique. HIV/AIDS and malaria are the top causes of death in the country, and 13.2 percent of Mozambique’s adult population and 200,000 children are living with HIV, according to the study.

The Mozambican Association for Family Development, or AMODEFA, is one of the largest health organizations in Mozambique, an affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and long-time recipient of funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The organization lost 60 percent of its budget because it could not comply with the rule. Clinics closed, staff was laid off and community advocates providing information about care dwindled as a result.

Mozambique was not a unique situation, Roose-Snyder said. Many countries lose not only clinical capabilities, but the advocacy and relationship-building side of care, she said. 

Next steps

Advocacy groups are pushing for legislation to codify the removal of the gag rule to prevent the constant back-and-forth of reinstatement and removal from Democrat and Republican presidents in the future.  

The Global HER Act, led by state Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) several House Democrats was introduced on Jan. 28. This bill would remove the gag rule permanently. It was originally introduced in 2019 by Shaheen and then-U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).

There have been efforts to codify the global gag rule, as well.

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) sent a budget resolution to the Senate floor on Feb. 3. This resolution was met with immediate opposition from Shaheen.

“The policy in question closes health clinics, decreases care and needlessly puts the lives of women, children and families at risk,” she said on the Senate floor.

Shaheen added a codification of the global gag rule would be “downright deadly” during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Roose-Snyder said because of the nature of the care at hand, resources won’t exactly “bounce back.” Clinics that closed due to the restriction will not reopen, and those who lost access to critical care will not “magically” become better.

But large organizations, such as UNAIDS, are swiftly recognizing the U.S. as a global health resource

“We look forward to working closely with the new United States Administration to ensure that all women and girls can exercise their human rights and get the sexual and reproductive health information and services they want and need,” UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima in a press release. 

Continue Reading

a&e features

NBC Universal cancels Golden Globe awards broadcast for 2022

NBC Universal announced the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes awards ceremony



Screenshot NBC coverage of the Golden Globes from previous years on YouTube

BURBANK – In the wake of an in-depth investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization responsible for the Golden Globes by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed a lack of racial diversity among its voting members and various other ethical concerns, NBC Universal announced Monday the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.

This past February ahead of the HFPA’s 78th Annual Golden Globes ceremony, HFPA board chair Meher Tatna told Variety magazine that the organization that the organization of international journalists which covers the film, television, and entertainment industry has not had any Black members in at least 20 years.

Actor Sterling K. Brown,  a Golden Globe winner and two-time nominee, posted to Instagram; 

Criticism of the HFPA, which puts on the Globes and has been denounced for a lack of diversity and for ethical impropriates, reached such a pitch this week that actor and superstar celebrity Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the press association’s headquarters, according to a person who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision, the Associated Press reported.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” a spokesperson for NBC said in a statement.

“As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” the spokesperson added. “Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

NBC’s decision comes as Vogue reported that the backlash to the HFPA came swiftly and decisively. Some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Netflix, Amazon, and WarnerMedia, announced they were severing ties with the organization until efforts were made to increase diversity and stamp out corruption, while a group of more than 100 of the industry’s biggest PR firms released a statement in March in which they pledged to boycott the ceremony for the foreseeable future. 

The HFPA did not immediately respond to inquiries by media outlets requesting comment about NBC’s decision.

In February, the organization said it was “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV, and the artists inspiring and educating them.”

“We understand that we need to bring in Black members as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible,” it said.

HFPA also announced a full timetable through this summer for implementing promised reform initiatives in response to NBC’s decision.

“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority,” the HFPA board said in a statement. “We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”

Continue Reading


LA County expected to hit herd immunity by mid summer



Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County could reach COVID-19 herd immunity among adults and the older teenagers by mid- to late July, public health officials announced Monday. Over the weekend LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that appointments are no longer needed for Angelenos to get COVID-19 vaccinations at any site run by the city.

Garcetti’s move is intended to give people who don’t have the time or technological resources to navigate online booking platforms a chance to get the shot.

The percentage of the population the County needs to vaccinate to achieve community immunity is unknown, however Public Health officials estimate it’s probably around 80%. Currently, 400,000 shots each week are getting into the arms of L.A. County residents, and there are over 2 million more first doses to go before 80% of all L.A. County residents 16 and older have received at least one shot.

At this rate, Public Health expects the County will reach this level of community immunity in mid- to late July and that assumes the County continues to at least have 400,000 people vaccinated each week. That would include both first doses that people need as well as their second doses.

This news came as Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced that attendance numbers at all grade levels in the District have been considerably lower than expected as extensive safety measures have failed to lure back the vast majority of families in the final weeks of school.

Only 7% of high school students, about 30% of elementary school children and 12% of middle school students have returned to campuses.

As of May 7, more than 8,492,810 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Of these, 5,146,142 were first doses and 3,346,668 were second doses.

On Monday the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for people 16 years old and older.

Pfizer’s testing in adolescents “met our rigorous standards,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said. “Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a statement released Monday by the White House, President Joe Biden the FDA’s decision marked another important step in the nation’s march back to regular life.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter,” Biden said.

Los Angeles County will offer the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms the FDA recommendation, which can happen as early as Wednesday. All adolescents 12-17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: (English) and (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that unvaccinated people — including children — should continue taking precautions such as wearing masks indoors and keeping their distance from other unvaccinated people outside of their households.

Continue Reading


HHS takes steps to reverse Anti-LGBTQ+ healthcare policy

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule”



HHS the Hubert H. Humphrey Building (Photo: GSA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday morning that the Biden-Harris Administration will interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in BAGLY v. HHS, Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule.”

The Trump-era policy undermines the ACA’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex — including pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping — as well as protections for patients with limited-English proficiency and those living with chronic illnesses, including HIV. Because the issues in BAGLY v. HHS are broader than what the Administration announced today, the Court scheduled a hearing on the government’s motion to dismiss for June 3rd at 2:30 PM EST.

In reaction to the HHS announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Monday:

“Today, the Biden Administration has taken essential and potentially life-saving action to affirm that all people in America have the right to quality, affordable health care – no matter who they are or whom they love.  During this time of pandemic and always, it is vital that the most vulnerable have access to care, including LGBTQ Americans, who have long suffered injustice and discrimination that has left them dangerously exposed to health risks.
“The Trump Administration’s decision to greenlight anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care in the middle of a pandemic was an act of senseless and staggering cruelty, made in blatant defiance of our values and a Supreme Court ruling made just a month prior.  
“Congressional Democrats together with the Biden Administration are proud to uphold the equal right of every American to access the care that they need to pursue a life of dignity and health.  We must now build on this progress and enact the House-passed Equality Act to fully ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in our nation.”

In addition to Equality California, co-plaintiffs in BAGLY v. HHS include Darren Lazor, The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality California, Fenway Health, and Transgender Emergency Fund.

Lazor is a transgender man near Cleveland, Ohio, who experienced numerous counts of discrimination from healthcare providers on the basis of his gender identity from 2012 to 2017. He is a member of Equality California. Plaintiffs are represented by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Transgender Law Center (TLC), the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School and law firm Hogan Lovells.

The lawsuit asserts that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act by being contrary to law, arbitrary and capricious and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Notably, it was published on June 19,  just days after the June 15, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that it is unlawful sex discrimination to fire employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The lawsuit also asserts that the new rule will embolden discrimination and harm LGBTQ+ patients and people seeking reproductive health care, further stigmatize abortion and other pregnancy-related care, harm patients with limited-English proficiency, especially immigrants, and harm people with chronic illnesses, including those living with HIV. The rule will also create confusion about the scope of protections against discrimination under federal law. 

Trans people, like plaintiff Darren Lazor, already face disproportionate discrimination in health care settings, including mistreatment by insurers and humiliation and harassment by doctors – problems that are exacerbated for trans people of color and trans people living in rural regions and the U.S. South. In seeking to deny trans people access to the healthcare they need, the Trump Administration had placed trans people, and especially Black trans women, in danger through deliberately harmful governmental action.

“We are thrilled by the news that the Biden-Harris Administration will take initial steps to reverse President Trump’s dangerous, discriminatory Rollback Rule, which undermined healthcare nondiscrimination protections critical to the LGBTQ+ community, and trans people in particular,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur.

“As the world recovers from a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever that every American have access to quality, affordable healthcare without fear of harassment and discrimination. We remain hopeful that under Secretary Becerra and Assistant Secretary Levine’s leadership, HHS will continue to take further steps to rescind the Trump-era regulation and address the harms that it has caused,” he added.

Continue Reading

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts