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Biden-Harris Administration Announces New LGBTQ Protections in Housing

Today the Biden-Harris Administration announced that it will enforce the Fair Housing Act in cases of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a groundbreaking memo stating that the Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination includes discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This move is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 landmark Bostock decision.

In a very important move, HUD has made this retroactive. It is instructing its fair housing enforcement grantees to review their records for complaints and inquiries regarding LGBTQ discrimination received since January 20, 2020, within the next 30 days. HUD has also directed these grantees to notify victims of LGBTQ housing discrimination identified in this review that filing a fair housing complaint may still be possible. 

“We are thrilled that the Biden-Harris Administration moved so quickly to clearly affirm that sexual orientation and gender identity are covered by the Fair Housing Act. Denial of housing and harassment because of bigotry persist, and we commend HUD for taking this much needed action,” said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project. “It is a welcome change to have a federal housing agency that is working to end housing discrimination. We look forward to additional actions by this administration to undo the actions of the previous administration to undermine core civil and human rights.”

“Today’s announcement is a welcome reversal of course from the previous administration’s relentless attacks on fair housing and safe shelter opportunities for LGBTQ people. We look forward to working with HUD to educate the public and housing providers on these important protections going forward. Just as we praised last year’s landmark Bostock decision ensuring anti-discrimination workplace protections apply to LGBTQ individuals, we commend HUD for taking another important step that further expands anti-discrimination protections, this time in housing,” said Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “Housing determines access to credit, education, healthy food, clean environments, and a whole host of other resources that individuals need in order to thrive. It’s past time that we make sure LGBTQ people are fully included in these opportunities.”

As described in its memo, HUD will carry out its enforcement in alignment with the recent executive order on preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The order is based on the case of Bostock v Clayton County, which confirmed that unlawful sex discrimination includes discrimination against LGBTQ employees under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Courts have long interpreted Fair Housing Act protections by relying on Title VII case law.