A U.S. federal judge granted on Monday a preliminary injunction against Donald Trump’s policy denying members of the LGBTQ community health care protections. The new rules by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were finalized on June 12 and set to take effect on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Frederic Block said the rules undermine a U.S. Supreme Court decision issued on June 15, which included the LGBTQ in protections against workplace discrimination. “When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision’s impact,” said Block. “Since HHS has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it,” he added.

The new HHS policy would have offered a definition of “sex” as strictly male or female, removing health care protections for the LGBTQ. Once the rules go into effect, the health care industry can legally discriminate against LGBTQ people by denying them care, including life-saving procedures unrelated to their sexual orientation.

While Block’s ruling is expected to face legal battles in the coming days, it earned praises from activist groups fighting for LGBTQ rights. Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David commended Block for offering a reprieve from the new HHS rules and vowed to continue their efforts to challenge similar policies against the LGBTQ people.

“We are pleased the Court recognized this irrational rule for what it is: discrimination, plain and simple,” said David. “LGBTQ Americans deserve the health care that they need without fear of mistreatment, harassment, or humiliation. This failed attempt to callously strip away non-discrimination health care protections is merely the latest in a long line of attacks against the transgender community from the Trump-Pence team,” he added.

David also said the HHS policy should be permanently scrapped and that the Trump administration should stop its attempts to dehumanize and stigmatize the members of the LGBTQ community.

In a separate statement, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch said any employer who fires an individual on the basis of his or her gender identity fires that person for actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” he said, referring to the title of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that forbids discrimination on the basis of LGBTQ status.

Representation Image
A young 22-year-old African lesbian was heinously raped and murdered, her throat and abdomen slit by a man in an apparent hate crime in South Africa. This is a representational image. UNSPLASH

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