Administration pushing for change on LGBTQ at Labor Department

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is pressuring the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to change its position on employment cases up before the U.S. Supreme Court this October and issuing a new rule at the Labor Department. 

Bloomberg Law reported on Tuesday that the EEOC has kept its Obama-era policies and has continued to pursue three cases about LGBTQ discrimination up this fall. But the Justice Department is hoping to persuade the EEOC to flip sides. According to the website, political leadership in the Solicitor General’s office wants the EEOC on board to show the high court that the Trump administration is now unified in the belief that Congress didn’t have LGBTQ workers in mind when it passed a federal workplace discrimination law more than five decades ago, sources said. On Wednesday, Politico reported that the administration is working to allow contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ workers as part of “religious freedom.” “With this proposed regulation, the Trump administration is seeking to gut existing protections for LGBTQ people, women, and religious minorities, and we cannot stand idly by,” said HRC President Alphonso David in a press release.

Wal-Mart to get rid of violent video game displays but keep guns, despite another incident

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Wal-mart announced Friday that it would stop selling violent video games but keep selling guns. The company made the announcement the same day a man in Missouri was arrested after entering a Wal-mart store with ammo, a rifle and body armor. According to the Associated Press, the company has told employees to remove any marketing material, turn off or unplug video game consoles that show violent games and to monitor and turn off any violence depicted on screens in its electronics departments. The AP said they were also told to turn off hunting season videos in the sporting goods department where guns are sold. From the Associated Press:

“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week,” said spokeswoman Tara House in an email to The Associated Press on Friday.

Gay man tortured during 2017 crackdown in Chechnya reveals his identity

TORONTO, July 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ – In 2017, Amin Dzhabrailov was being held in a torture facility somewhere in Chechnya, unsure if he would ever make it out alive. Now, after escaping with the help of Rainbow Railroad, Dzhabrailov has bravely gone public with his story, in a Timearticle entitled “A Victim of the Anti-Gay Purge in Chechnya Speaks Out: ‘The Truth Exists.'”

Very few of those who survived the 2017 crackdown against gay men in Chechnya have dared speak out with their name and face attached. Many live in fear that, even safe in a new country, Chechen authorities will hunt them down. “I hope this helps save lives,” Dzhabrailov, who now lives in Toronto, says about speaking to Time. “There are so many people in Chechnya still so scared to talk about what happened to them.

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Chicago youth survey finds PrEP use doesn’t lead to more STIs

MEXICO CITY — A survey of young gay and bisexual men and transgender women in Chicago, a portion of whom were on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has found no direct relationship between starting PrEP and any increase in subsequent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). AIDSmap reported that the survey did find that people had more condomless sex, but it did not lead to more STIs. From AIDSmap:
Ethan Morgan of Chicago’s Northwestern University and Center for AIDS Research told the 10th International AIDS Society Conference in HIV Science (IAS 2019) is Mexico City that data were collected as part of RADAR, a cohort study of young men who have sex with men and transgender women aged between 16 and 29. 

A total of 744 young people who attended six or more study visits were followed out of a total cohort of 1100. During the study period, a third of participants started PrEP (32.9%). (The fact that this was only 21% in the pre-conference abstract submitted a few months ago shows evidence of a rapid expansion in PrEP use.) About a third were also diagnosed with a rectal STI: 17% with rectal gonorrhoea and 23% with rectal chlamydia (some with both).

Man who caused DC Pride panic gets plea deal

WASHINGTON — The Washington Blade reported Tuesday that a man charged with brandishing a BB gun and starting a panic at DC Pride in June has accepted a plea deal. The Blade reported that Aftabjit “DJ” Singh, 38, agreed to an offer by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of Possession of a Destructive Device and Attempted Threats to Do Bodily Harm. He’ll be enrolled in a six-month diversion program where his sentence is postponed while he does community service. If the prosecutors think he’s successfully completed the program, the newspaper said, he can drop his guilty plea and have charges dropped. In June, Singh had pulled the BB gun when someone had hit his girlfriend Melissa Duffy, 43.

Military experts, medical associations and HIV advocates oppose Trump DOD’s discharge policy for HIV-positive airmen

Image by skeeze from PixabayNEW YORK — Military leaders, medical associations, public health groups, and HIV advocates joined three friend-of-the court briefs filed today in support of a federal lawsuit challenging the Pentagon’s discriminatory policies, which prevent service members living with HIV from deploying to most locations outside the United States. These deployment restrictions recently resulted in decisions to discharge a number of Airmen.  The briefs being filed today in Roe and Voe v Shanahan before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit urge the court to uphold a preliminary injunction preventing the Air Force from discharging service members with HIV. “Given the assessment of military experts and the advances in HIV treatment, the Pentagon’s policy of refusing to deploy—and now to discharge—HIV-positive servicemembers who honorably serve our country is utterly discriminatory, outdated and unnecessary,” said Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director and Counsel at Lambda Legal. “As the world’s largest employer with 2.5 million employees, it is outrageous that the Department of Defense has a harmful and unlawful policy that perpetrates stigma, jeopardizes public health, and dishonors servicemembers.”  

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal and the Modern Military Association of America (OutServe-SLDN) represent two active duty airmen, identified anonymously as Roe and Voe, who served their country honorably for years until they were discharged in 2018 for being HIV-positive.. The briefs argue that the Pentagon’s categorical exclusion and discharge of HIV-service members is outdated, irrational and discriminatory given the strides in HIV medicine that allow people living with HIV to suppress HIV to undetectable levels, return to health, and lead full lives. The briefs further argue that the Pentagon’s policies lacks scientific support and justification, enact real world harms, and undermine broader public health—debunking erroneous claims by the government.

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WHO endorses the use of event-driven PrEP

MEXICO CITY — The World Health Organization (WHO) announced its updated  recommendation for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to include event-driven PrEP taken before and after sex – also called on-demand PrEP  – as an HIV prevention option for men who have sex with men. According to AIDSMap, the pdate was announced at the 10th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2019) in Mexico City. AIDSMap reported that event-driven PrEP involves taking a double dose (two pills) of Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine) between 2 and 24 hours before sex is anticipated, and then, if sex occurs, one pill 24 hours after the double dose and another 24 hours later. If sex occurs several days in a row, one pill should be taken each day, until 48 hours after the last event. In 2015, Dr Jean-Michel Molina of the University of Paris reported that event-driven PrEP reduced the risk of HIV infection by 86% among gay and bisexual men in the French Ipergay study – equalling the protective effect of daily PrEP in the UK PROUD study, the medical news website reported.

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Study: Increased risk of subjective cognitive decline in the LGBTQ community

LOS ANGELES — New research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2019 in Los Angeles found higher rates of subjective cognitive decline among lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) Americans compared to their cisgender* heterosexual counterparts. In the study, subjective cognitive decline (SCD) was defined as self-reported confusion or memory problems that have been getting worse over the past year. Another study presented at AAIC 2019 investigated the effectiveness of a first-of-its-kind Alzheimer’s intervention designed specifically to improve physical function and independence for LGBT older individuals with dementia and their caregivers. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, showed the importance of tailored interventions and strong community partnerships in designing care for LGBT individuals. “Much too little is known about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in the LGBT community.