White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has come under fire after she falsely claimed that Donald Trump was the first president in United States history to display the red ribbon for World AIDS Day.
Trump was roundly criticised when he failed, yet again, to mention the LGBT+ community in his World AIDS Day statement, despite the fact that queer people have been disproportionately impacted by the epidemic since it began in the early 1980s.
When asked by the Washington Blade at a press briefing on Wednesday (2 December) why Trump had failed to mention the LGBT+ community in his World AIDS Day statement, McEnany dodged the question and instead incorrectly claimed Trump was the first president to display the red ribbon, which is the universal symbol for people living with HIV.
“The president honoured World AIDS Day yesterday in a way that no president has before with the red ribbon there, and I think he commemorated the day as he should,” McEnany said.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s claim about Trump on World AIDS Day was incorrect
However, ABC News’ Karen Travers quickly pointed out on Twitter that, actually, that’s not the truth, Kayleigh.
In fact, both Barack Obama and George W Bush displayed the red ribbon at the White House to mark World AIDS Day during their presidencies.
Travers said the information was “not hard to find”, and shared links to archived content on the White House website showing that the red ribbon was displayed by both former presidents.
“I mean come on,” she added.
"The president honored World AIDS Day yesterday in a way that no president has before, with the red ribbon there."
— Karen Travers (@karentravers) December 2, 2020
The Washington Blade attempted to press McEnany on why Trump excluded LGBT+ people from his address, but she refused to answer and instead took a question from the pro-Trump One America News Network.
The Blade later questioned McEnany by email about her claim, but she did not respond.
Trump, now in the final weeks of his presidency, issued his last World AIDS Day statement on Tuesday (1 December), and failed to mention LGBT+ people for the fourth year running.
The proclamation issued in Donald Trump’s name on Tuesday (1 December) noted that “this deadly disease disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities” but entirely failed to mention the impact on gay and bisexual men, who make up 69 per cent of all HIV diagnoses in the US, and also made up the overwhelming majority of victims of the AIDS crisis.
The US president has made similar proclamations on the three other World AIDS Days he has been in office, and he also failed to mention LGBT+ people on all of those occasions.
HIV/AIDS policy has suffered significantly under the Trump administration, with the president shuttering the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, dismissing all the members of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and allegedly draining funding from an HIV/AIDS budget to pay for child migrant detention.
In 2017, recordings emerged from 1997 of Donald Trump joking about forcing Princess Diana to take an HIV test before having sex with her. Meanwhile, a book has claimed that Trump once got his luxury Mar-a-Lago club fumigated after a visit from HIV-positive Republican fixer Roy Cohn.