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For more information on a case,
contact Carisa Cunningham at 617-426-1350, or contact by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Ending Conversion Therapy in Vermont

On May 25, 2015, Governor Shumlin signed a bill making Vermont a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ youth – by banning the harmful practice of so-called “conversion therapy.”

With this historic step, Vermont became the first state in New England to join California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, New York, and Washington D.C. in not only protecting LGBTQ youth from this practice, but sending those young people a message that they are perfectly okay. Read more

GLAD Staff Attorney Allison Wright submitted written testimony in support of the bill:

"This practice, most commonly known as 'conversion therapy,' strays from Vermont's long-standing history of preserving the safety and dignity of its LGBTQ residents. As the first state in the nation to offer legal recognition to same-sex relationships in the form of civil unions, the Vermont legislature has a proud history of eradicating discrimination against LGBTQ people as well as enacting laws that ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children. The passage of S 132 is a critical step necessary to further these goals."

Wright's testimony describes the consensus in the medical community that so-called conversion therapy is ineffective and, in fact, harmful, and asserts that the passage of this bill will send a positive message to all LGBTQ youth:  

"The harms that come to LGBTQ youth as a result of negative feelings about their own identities, as well as the prevalence of bullying and harassment by others, can be traced in significant part to the underlying notion of abnormality or "otherness." Passage of S 132 will send a powerful and important message to all people: there is nothing about one's sexual orientation or gender identity that needs to be changed because being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer is normal and healthy."

Read the full testimony

Act TODAY to help people with HIV get health care in Massachusetts

Monday, May 18, 2015

Call your MA Senator today and ask them to support Budget Amendment 846We urgently need calls today to pass a crucial budget amendment that will enable people with HIV in Massachusetts to get health care.

Senator Mark Montigny has offered an Amendment to the Senate Budget that would ensure treatment for HIV-associated lipodystrophy, a debilitating side-effect of some HIV medications that causes disfiguring body shape changes. Treatment is currently denied by the insurance industry.

Please call your State Senator today and ask him or her to support Budget Amendment 846 sponsored by Senator Montigny that would help people with HIV-associated lipodystrophy get medical treatment.

The Senate will begin debate on budget amendments today or tomorrow.

You can find and contact your Senator at malegislature.gov or contact the General Switchboard at 722-2000.

People with lipodystrophy suffer terrible physical pain; many experience such disfiguration that they stop leaving their homes; some have contemplated or committed suicide.

The good news is that there are simple, cost-effective treatments for lipodystrophy.

But health insurers in Massachusetts regularly deny coverage for these life-saving treatments because they say they are "cosmetic."

Lipodystrophy harms our longest-term survivors of the HIV epidemic.

Thank you for helping ensure sound and compassionate health care for people with HIV.

Learn more about this issue at www.glad.org/TLC

GLAD Senior Attorney Ben Klein Testimony in Support of RI S 480, to Prohibit Conversion Therapy

GLAD Senior Attorney Ben Klein submitted testimony March 31 in support of Rhode Island S 480, which would prohibit licensed health care professionals from engaging in the discredited and harmful practice of seeking to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Excerpts from Klein's testimony:

  • So-called “conversion therapy” is a remnant of our nation’s shameful history of oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  Its premise is that homosexuality is abnormal behavior and a mental disorder that must therefore be changed.  The Rhode Island legislature has a proud history of eradicating discrimination against LGBT people as well as enacting laws that ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children. The passage of S 480 is a critical step necessary to further these goals.  
  • So-called “conversion therapy” has been proven ineffective, is contrary to modern medicine, and subjects young people to the risk of suicide and other serious psychological harms. 
  • The passage of S 480 is also a significant step that Rhode Island can take to create a better world for those LGBT youth who will never be subjected to “conversion therapy.” Many LGBT youth still grow up believing that there is “something wrong” with who they are, increasing their risk of adverse mental health outcomes. The prohibition of “conversion therapy,” which has its roots in the notion that it is not normal to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, is a powerful step the legislature can take to counter that harmful message. 
  • Courts have upheld the constitutionality of bans on conversion therapy as within the state’s well-established power to regulate healthcare and legislate for the welfare of children.  

Read the full testimony here

Testimony in Opposition to An Act Related to Criminal Offenses - Criminal Transmission of HIV

GLAD AIDS Law Project Director and Senior Staff Attorney Ben Klein testified February 24 in opposition to Rhode Island H 5245, An Act Related to Criminal Offenses - Criminal Transmission of HIV, saying such a law, if enacted, would "undermine public health efforts to prevent HIV and will actually increase HIV transmission."

You can read Klein's full testimony here.  

An excerpt follows:

"GLAD opposes H 5245, a law that criminalizes failure to disclose HIV status, because leading medical and public health authorities agree that such a law will undermine public health efforts to prevent HIV and will actually increase HIV transmission.

We all share the goal of stopping HIV transmission. Rhode Island has been a leader in adopting successful tools to curtail the spread of HIV. Those measures include increasing HIV testing, ensuring access to HIV antiviral medications that drastically reduce the likelihood of transmission, adopting laws providing for access to clean syringes, and operating an effective partner notification program. H 5245, however, will not only fail to have any impact on HIV transmission, it will actually increase HIV transmission by undermining these proven public health measures.  

For this reason, there is a consensus among the nation’s leading medical and public health organizations that HIV criminalization laws, such as H 5245, are harmful to the public health."

Read more

Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors

HD 3202 sponsored by Representative Kay Khan and also known as the "conversion therapy ban bill," would ban practices, erroneously called “therapy,” that purport to heal or change a minor’s same-sex attraction or transgender identity.

Specifically it would:

  • Prohibit any licensed medical, mental health, or human service professional as defined in Chapter 112 from engaging with a minor in therapeutic practices aimed at changing or healing the minor’s sexual orientation, in particular same-sex attraction.
  • Prohibit any licensed medical, mental health, or human service professional as defined in Chapter 112 from engaging in therapeutic practices aimed at eliminating a minor’s sincerely held conviction that their birth assigned gender is different or inappropriate from their actual gender identity, and related practices aimed to discourage that minor from seeking a transition to the gender they identify as.
  • Charge state mandatory reporters to report cases of suspected instances where a minor is being subjected to reparative or conversion therapy by a state licensed professional.
  • Define advertisements of such reparative therapy or conversion therapy as deceptive acts or practices in violation of state consumer protections laws, and subject to rules and regulations by the state Attorney General. 

Read more

Take Two Minutes Today to Help People with HIV Get Health care in MA

We're down to the wire in our effort to pass a crucial piece of legislation that will help people with HIV get health care.

We need your help to ensure An Act Relative to HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Treatment is brought to a vote this session.
Please contact your representative today.

Lipodystrophy is a debilitating side-effect of some HIV medications that causes disfiguring body shape changes. People with lipodystrophy suffer terrible physical pain; many experience such disfiguration that they stop leaving their homes; some have contemplated or committed suicide.

The good news is that there are simple, cost-effective treatments for lipodystrophy.

But health insurers in Massachusetts regularly deny coverage for these life-saving treatments because they say they are "cosmetic."

An Act Relative to HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Treatment, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Peake, requires private health insurers and MassHealth to cover treatments such as liposuction and dermal injections.

Please contact your representative today and request that they ask House Leadership to bring H4141 An Act Relative to HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Treatment to a vote this session.

You can find and email your representative here or contact the General Switchboard at 617-722-2000.

Thank you for helping ensure sound and compassionate health care for people with HIV.

Learn more about this bill, about lipodystrophy, and about the Treat Lipodystrophy Coalition.

Treat Lipodystrophy Coalition

Massachusetts

In the Boston GlobePatients, advocates hope to ease a visible burden - Treatment for lipodystrophy, visible fat deposits caused by a reaction to HIV medication, often isn’t covered by insurance.

“A Bill to Require Insurance Coverage for Treatment of a Debilitating and Disfiguring Side Effect of HIV Medications,” sponsored by Rep. Carl Sciortino,has a hearing before the Joint Committee on Financial Services on March 5, 2014. Read more

About this Issue

GLAD and the Treat Lipodystrophy Coalition are working with Massachusetts Rep. Carl Sciortino to pass An Act Relative to HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Treatment.

This bill requires private insurers, MassHealth, and the Group Insurance Commission to provide medical treatment for lipodystrophy, a disfiguring side-effect of lifesaving, but highly toxic, HIV medications.

HIV antiviral medications, known as “triple combination therapy” or “the cocktail,” revolutionized AIDS care in the 1990’s, extending the lives of people with HIV. These medications also can result in lipodystrophy, the abnormal distribution of body fat. The condition creates “visible disfiguring and stigmatizing morphological changes” in body shape and appearance, causing profound physical and psychological harm to people with HIV.

While there are inexpensive, effective medical treatments for lipodystrophy, insurers routinely deny claims for treatment on the basis that they are cosmetic and not medically necessary.

For more information, read the fact sheet and visit the TLC page at www.glad.org/tlc