The Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath Declared Unconstitutional
Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Free Speech
In a resounding victory yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the anti-prostitution loyalty oath unconstitutional. At issue, the loyalty oath required all organizations receiving U.S. funds designated for international HIV and AIDS work to denounce prostitution in order to be eligible to receive the earmarked funds. The policy prohibits organizations from engaging in activities inconsistent with the U.S. government's views on prostitution, even if activities are financed by private funds.
Recognizing the policy not only infringes on an organization’s free speech rights, but also undermines HIV prevention efforts by further stigmatizing individuals who need these services, EngenderHealth joined the lawsuit as Plaintiffs from the beginning. EngenderHealth has been advocating for the renunciation of the loyalty oath from the time the policy was implemented as part of the 2003 law authorizing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling is monumental for key populations in the fight against HIV and AIDS, as well as all organizations dedicated to achieving an AIDS-free generation.
Though the scope of the ruling does not extend to organizations based outside of the U.S. who are receiving U.S. funds, the decision brings us one step closer to eradicating discriminatory barriers to U.S. foreign assistance, and to strengthening the impact of U.S. HIV and AIDS programs for those who need it most.
- Huffington Post: The Right to Fight AIDS, April 22, 2013.
- Policy brief: Implications of U.S. Policy Restrictions for HIV Programs Aimed at Commercial Sex Workers (PDF, 244KB), August 2008.