For the first time, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are now protected from housing discrimination under federal law.
HUD is the first federal agency to act on an executive order President Joe Biden signed on his first day in office saying that — based on a 2020 Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County — all laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex should also be interpreted as prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This is a very big deal,” said Jake Lilien, an attorney and compliance program manager with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. “We’ve been waiting a long time for the day when someone could contact HUD and say, ‘I’ve been the victim of housing discrimination because I’m gay or because I’m trans.’”
Now they can.
In addition to having such claims taken seriously, Lilien said, “there is a hope that housing providers will now know that they cannot get away with blatant discrimination.”
Whether they’re renting or selling a home.
“The Fair Housing Act also prohibits mortgage and lending discrimination for housing,” said Sharita Gruberg, vice president of the LGBTQ research and communications project at the Center for American Progress. “It prohibits shelter discrimination.”
Some states already prohibited housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but 21 did not.
“We know that LGBTQ people face disproportionate levels of poverty, are less likely to own homes, are more likely to experience homelessness and face significant levels of discrimination in housing,” Gruberg said.
Transgender people in particular.
Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against because of their gender identity or sexual orientation can now file a complaint with HUD. The agency has also said it will investigate allegations received in the last year.
“These are really significant advances in protections for LGBTQ people,” Gruberg said. “But the last administration really demonstrated how easily a anti-LGBTQ government can rescind protections. So … we still need Congress to pass the Equality Act, and ensure that we have explicit and permanent protections under the law.”
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