Muslim Civic, Health & Religious Groups: HHS Proposal is a ‘License to Discriminate’

Proposed Rule Allows Federal Award Grantees to Discriminate Based on Religion, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

WASHINGTON, DC — On Thursday, Muslim Advocates, American Muslim Health Professionals, Islamic Circle of North America Council for Social Justice and the Muslim Public Affairs Council called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reject a proposed rule that would allow adoption agencies and other groups accepting federal funds to discriminate against individuals in the course of their federally funded work because of a person’s religion, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. 

In a comment submitted to HHS, the coalition argued that the agency’s proposed rule eliminates critical anti-discrimination and religious liberty protections that will result in serious, real-world harm to people of all backgrounds, including American Muslims. 

The proposed rule, the groups warned, would allow entities that accept funds from HHS such as adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against people because of their religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, such discrimination is already happening. For example, we’ve seen a Christian adoption agency refuse to work with a Jewish volunteer because of her religion.

“This proposal guts anti-discrimination protections enacted in 2016 and gives organizations that accept taxpayer dollars a green light to discriminate against Muslim parents and children,” said Nimra Azmi, a staff attorney for Muslim Advocates. “Allowing an adoption agency or a foster care service to reject people because of their religion, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity will seriously harm families and children. If adopted, this proposed rule will undercut the core principles of religious liberty and anti-discrimination—which disturbingly appears to be the intention of HHS.”

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Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.