Pride Month: Fighting the Global Gag Rule’s Effect on LGBTQ+ People

By Nicole Rapfogel, Field and Outreach Intern, Duke University Stanback Internship Program

This Pride Month (and every month), as we celebrate hard-earned wins to advance equality for LGBTQ+ people, we must remember that the battle for justice is not over. The Trump administration’s policies threaten the health and lives of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.

The reproductive rights movement has historically promoted choice for middle-class, white, cisgender women, often at the expense of others with less privilege. Today, as allies of the reproductive justice movement, individuals and organizations are creating initiatives to promote reproductive autonomy from a more inclusive and structural lens. An intersectional approach that addresses income level, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among other factors, is crucial to developing and supporting policy that upholds the rights of all people.

Trump’s expanded Global Gag Rule applies to $8.8 billion in global health funding. This administration simultaneously defunded the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and rescinded all U.S. funding for any NGO that provides or counsels about abortion. Numerous organizations also provide services and prevention for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, Zika, and other infectious diseases, nutrition services for children and other vulnerable populations, and comprehensive and gender-inclusive sex education.

This dangerous policy poses providers with an impossible choice: either eliminate essential sexual and reproductive health services, or lose significant funding. Subsequently, many clinics are shutting down programs and services, often in underserved locations where there are no comparable alternatives for care. Many already marginalized groups are bearing the brunt of these closures:

  • LGBTQ+
    Under the Global Gag Rule, the LGBTQ+ community faces heightened barriers to access care. Many organizations with reduced funding are well-integrated in communities and have relationships to vulnerable populations.  In nations where it is illegal or highly stigmatized to be LGBTQ+, health groups that are reliant on U.S. funding often discreetly deliver programs to promote LGBTQ+ rights and safety.
  • Lesbian and bisexual women
    Funding cuts threaten access to contraception and safe, legal abortion for all people who can become pregnant. Lesbian and bisexual women are at higher risk of sexual assault, which could lead to unwanted pregnancy. Studies show that lesbian and bisexual youths are more likely to become pregnant than those who are heterosexual for many reasons, including exclusion from traditional family planning services, lack of relevant sex education programs, and lower condom use.
  • HIV/AIDS patients
    This threat to healthcare is a particularly burdensome problem for people living with HIV, whose strict adherence to treatment is essential to suppress an individual’s viral load, both for the individual’s health and to prevent transmission to others.

At Population Connection Action Fund, we envision a world in which all people can freely define how, when, and if to create families.  Now more than ever, these freedoms are at risk. The Trump administration has waged unprecedented attacks to control sexuality and gender expression and erode access to reproductive healthcare worldwide.

When we fight for health, empowerment, and rights (#Fight4HER), we fight for the LGBTQ+ people around the world who are further marginalized by Trump’s deadly agenda. Join us this Sunday at the Capital Pride Festival to support healthcare access for all people around the globe under the Global HER Act. Will you battle injustice with us and our allies?

Categories: Blog