By Emily Waters, Senior Manager of National Research and Policy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project
Today President Trump signed an Executive Order that creates dangerous avenues for agencies, organizations, and individuals to discriminate against LGBTQ people, people accessing reproductive health care, and other marginalized communities under the guise of religious liberty. While many religious institutions and organizations support LGBTQ rights and actively work to end violence against LGBTQ people, this Executive Order validates those who believe that they should be able to prevent people from accessing lifesaving and affirming resources because of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
What’s worse is that the Executive Order directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has already used his position as Attorney General to roll back protections for LGBTQ communities, to issue guidelines for agencies to interpret religious liberty protections in Federal Law. LGBTQ communities are rightfully worried that Sessions will use this as opportunity to push anti-LGBTQ guidance and policies that will limit the rights of LGBTQ communities and our access to resources that should be afforded to all.
Every year, thousands of LGBTQ and HIV affected people report experiencing hate violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and other forms of violence to organizations of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. These survivors often rely on social services, healthcare, and resources provided by the government, organizations, and religious institutions and already are more likely to be discriminated against or turned away. In 2015, 44% of those survivors who reported experiencing intimate partner violence to NCAVP member programs were denied with the most common reason being gender identity. This executive order may create pathways to further discriminate against LGBTQ survivors by undermining current legal protections, but to be clear, those legal protections remain in force, and as such, any discrimination will be unlawful.
We must be vigilant in seeing how this executive order plays out. We must watch every move that Jeff Sessions makes to legitimize discrimination against LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities and call it out when we see it.
These executive orders attacking LGBTQ communities, Muslim communities, immigrants, and reproductive rights seek to divide us, seek to silo and diminish our resources and power. We will not be divided in the wake of these violent acts. We will continue our work to protect those in our community who experience the most egregious forms of discrimination and violence, including LGBTQ communities of color and Muslim, immigrant, disability, and native communities. The LGBTQ anti-violence movement will continue to show up and fight against any discriminatory or violent action by this administration, and we will do it in solidarity with other movements.
NCAVP member programs are here for you if you have experienced violence, need support or want to get involved. Find your local NCAVP member program here.