Congresswoman Titus, Senator Markey Lead Fight for LGBTQI+ Protections
Washington, DC, June 30, 2022 | Sara Severens (202-924-1719)
Today Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01), a member of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, and Ed Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to Ambassador John Nkengasong encouraging him to ensure that the global LGBTQI+ communities’ access to PEPFAR programs is protected and that his work is guided by the tenets set forth in President Biden’s memo on LGBTQI+ rights worldwide.
Washington, DC – Today Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01), a member of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, and Ed Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to Ambassador John Nkengasong encouraging him to ensure that the global LGBTQI+ communities’ access to PEPFAR programs is protected and that his work is guided by the tenets set forth in President Biden’s memo on LGBTQI+ rights worldwide.
“We encourage you to ensure that programs under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are guided by the tenets of President Biden’s Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World,” the Members wrote. “We also remain deeply concerned about current statutes governing PEPFAR programming that disproportionately harm those in the LGBTQI+ community, including those that require broad religious refusals, abstinence-only programming, and the anti-prostitution loyalty oath (APLO). While we are working to acknowledge the damage caused by these policies, including through legislation like the GLOBE Act, we hope that the PEPFAR program will also take steps to mitigate the harms caused by these policy riders. It is only by reaching the most vulnerable and most marginalized, including those in the LGBTQI+ community, that we will be able to secure a world free from AIDS.”
Ambassador John Nkengasong was confirmed last month and just assumed the role as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy on June 13, 2022.
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) represents the largest commitment of United States financial support overseas for gay and bisexual men, other men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender women. But the lack of a Senate-confirmed ambassador focused solely on PEPFAR programs for over two years has limited the United States’ ability to make meaningful and long-term commitments to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex populations most at risk of acquiring HIV.
According to the Global Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) report, gay men and other men who have sex with men are at twenty-five times greater risk of acquiring HIV than heterosexual adult men. A recent study has also suggested that transgender women are up to sixty-six times more likely than the general population to acquire HIV. Recognizing the increased prevalence of HIV in these groups, institutions have identified gay men and other men who have sex with men and transgender people as key population groups, who are particularly vulnerable to HIV and frequently lack adequate access to resources. Unfortunately, only 2% of all HIV/AIDS funding targets key at-risk populations despite LGBTQI+ and other key population-led organizations being strategically placed to reach their communities with safe and welcoming services.
In addition to Rep. Titus and Sen. Markey, this letter was signed by 3 members of Congress including Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and was endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
Read today’s full letter here.