One of the few consistencies of the Trump administration has been the president’s willingness to break the norms of polite society to directly snub or denigrate minorities. And while he does it, Donald Trump will lie about being the best thing ever for the targeted community.
Trump’s proclamation for World AIDS Day continues the trend. For the entirety of his presidency, Trump refused to include LGBTQ people in the official acknowledgment of the deadly disease.
Instead, Trump touts his administration’s “Ending the HIV Epidemic” plan from 2019 that claims it will practically end new HIV infections in the United States within ten years.
“Through these and other initiatives we are bringing to a close a painful chapter in human history,” the proclamation reads. “For the past many decades, HIV and AIDS have inflicted untold suffering on millions of people both here at home and abroad. But by the end of this decade, we will have eliminated this scourge from our country and released much of the rest of the world from its deadly grip.”
The gap between reality and Trump’s actual actions is stark.
Trump fired his HIV/AIDS commission without explanation and replaced it with a pale imitation. He stole money from AIDS programs to pay for his policy of separating migrant children from their parents. He also shut down HIV cure research.
At the same time, Trump paved the way for making HIV a pre-existing condition that insurance companies can choose not to cover.
Vice President Mike Pence was governor of Indiana when part of the state was hit by one of the worst HIV outbreaks in recent history. Pence, a far-right Christian conservative, refused to follow protocols and suggestions for how to best mitigate the disaster for fear it would look like he was coddling LGBTQ people and drug users. He is one of the most anti-LGBTQ politicians currently in office.
In 2018, Pence flatly refused to even mention LGBTQ people during remarks about World AIDS Day. He opposes medicine developed with genetic material taken from aborted fetuses.
The religious right has found a new life in re-fighting the 1990s culture wars against LGBTQ people. The fuel for that war was the AIDS epidemic, which gave the right a chance to portray an entire community as both a social menace and a health threat.