U.S. judge blocks Trump rule on LGBT health discrimination


  • World
  • Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020

FILE PHOTO: A rainbow pride flag is seen with the U.S. national flag at a building ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riot, in New York, U.S., June 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday blocked a Trump administration rule that would strip protections for transgender people facing healthcare discrimination.

New York-based U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block ruled that the proposed regulation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services could not go into effect on Tuesday as planned

The administration's rule says federal law that bars discrimination in healthcare "on the basis of sex" does not cover gender identity or sex stereotyping.

Block said the legal basis of the regulation was now in question after the Supreme Court's major ruling in June finding that LGBT people are protected under a federal law using similar language that bars employment discrimination.

Then, legal experts predicted that the ruling could have an impact on other pending cases involving other federal discrimination laws.

"When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision's impact," Block wrote in Monday's ruling.

In 2016, the administration of President Barack Obama had introduced earlier rules that would have protected LGBT people under the healthcare discrimination provision, which is part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

The Trump rule, intended to unwind Obama's move, was challenged by two transgender women, Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker and Cecilia Gentili, who are represented by LGBT rights group Human Rights Campaign.

"We are pleased the court recognized this irrational rule for what it is: discrimination, plain and simple," the group's president Alphonso David said in a statement.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said officials were "disappointed" with the decision.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Tom Brown)

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