HUD says: “Fair Housing Act protects LGBTQ people.”
For the first time, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) Americans will be protected from housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.
It’s been a long road getting here, so let’s break it down:
Since 1968, the Fair Housing Act has prohibited discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has confirmed that sex discrimination also includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
HUD’s announcement arrives just three weeks after President Biden’s day-one executive order directing federal agencies to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination to the full extent of the law. Biden’s reasoning? The landmark Bostock ruling by the Supreme Court – which found that employees are protected against discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. HUD’s announcement today is consistent with the reasoning behind the Bostock decision: that discrimination based on sex includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. HUD is the first federal agency to act publicly in response to Biden’s order.
“Today’s announcement from HUD will impact the lives of all LGBTQ people in America – especially transgender people and LGBTQ people of color, who experience significantly high rates of discrimination,” said Gregory Lewis, Executive Director & CEO of True Colors United. “True Colors United applauds HUD’s swift action and President Biden’s leadership to protect LGBTQ people from housing discrimination.”
The significance of HUD’s announcement today can’t be understated. LGBTQ people face high levels of housing discrimination – including price gouging, evictions, and worse treatment when seeking rental housing. A 2013 HUD study showed that opposite-sex couples were favored over same-sex couples by rental companies by sixteen percent. And the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that nearly one in four transgender people report experiencing housing discrimination in the past year because of their gender identity – and that’s just in the past year.
So what does this all mean for LGBTQ people?
For one, this means when seeking to buy or rent, get a mortgage, or access federal housing programs, LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In other words: it’s illegal to deny someone housing for being LGBTQ.
This also allows LGBTQ people to file federal complaints if they’ve been discriminated against – which is huge. According to the Movement Advancement Project, 21 states and five territories have “no explicit prohibitions for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.” Today, LGBTQ folks everywhere in America have a way to report housing discrimination against them. We call that accountability.
If you believe you have experienced housing discrimination, you can file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (TTY/Relay). Housing discrimination complaints may also be submitted online at hud.gov/fairhousing.
A copy of the HUD memo is available here.