Pentagon, US Army Sued Over Ban on HIV-Positive Recruits

In a renewed effort to put an end to the US military’s decades-old policy of barring people with HIV from enlisting, an LGBTQ advocacy group filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the US Department of Defense and the US Army, pushing for more change.

The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal – a civil rights organization that focuses on the LGBTQ community and those living with HIV/AIDS – on behalf of three individuals living with HIV that were either denied entry into the Army over their HIV-positive status or left the Army following their diagnosis and are seeking to return.

Also named as a plaintiff in the suit – which lists as defendants Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth – is Minority Veterans of America, a minority-serving organization for current and former service members.

The case follows after a successful effort in June this year to ease longstanding restrictions on service members living with HIV, in which the Pentagon adjusted its regulations to line up with the early April ruling of a federal judge that has struck down the military’s policy of denying commissions to HIV-positive service members in a lawsuit filed in 2018.

The landmark ruling in April ordered the Pentagon to end its practice of blocking enlisted service members from deploying outside the US or being commissioned as officers.

In June, the DoD officially ended a 1980s-era policy, updating the guidance that restricted HIV-positive service members from deploying overseas and being promoted into leadership and management positions, but it didn’t change Pentagon’s policy denying those with HIV from being able to enlist in the military.

Lambda Legal is now challenging those updated policies, pointing out that the Pentagon’s actions are incompatible with the same medical advancements that led the court to permanently enjoin similar restrictions on those already serving.

They accuse the Pentagon of violating people living with HIV’s right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment and impermissibly discriminating against them.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.