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The Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Read HHS’ announcement.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in covered health programs or activities. Covered entities are prohibited from discriminating against consumers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Discrimination in health care impacts health outcomes. Research shows that one-quarter of LGBTQ people who faced discrimination postponed or avoided receiving needed medical care for fear of further discrimination.

The update was made in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County and subsequent court decisions. On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition on employment discrimination based on sex encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Bostock majority concluded that the plain meaning of “because of sex” in Title VII necessarily included discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

If you believe that a covered entity violated your civil rights, you may file a complaint at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints.

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