In a historic first, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has confirmed that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans will now be protected against housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.
“In other words: it’s [now] illegal to deny someone housing for being LGBTQ,” said Nick Seip of True Colors United. Seip reported that “since 1968, the Fair Housing Act has prohibited discrimination based on ‘race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.’” However, it wasn’t until Feb. 11. 2021, that HUD “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,” Seip added.
The National Law Review explained that following President Biden’s executive order, the landmark ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County that made discrimination on the basis of sex illegal could now be expanded to include legal protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. (The original Bostock ruling from the Supreme Court also led to increased protection of employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.)
According to Seip, “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.” He went on to cite data showing that “opposite-sex couples were favored over same-sex couples by rental companies by 16%” and “that nearly 1 in 4 transgender people report experiencing housing discrimination in the past year because of their gender identity.”
“Today’s announcement from HUD will impact the lives of all LGBTQ people in America [but] 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 Department of Housing and Urban Development is the first federal agency to act in response to President Biden’s executive order. More positive, anti-discriminatory announcements from other government agencies are expected in the coming weeks.