When a person is denied housing because of their gender, religion, race/ethnicity or disability status, that’s patently illegal and certainly unfair. But what about if that same person is lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual? The Fair Housing Act does not include LGBT status among its protected classes but while the law may not specifically prohibit this form of discrimination, HUD is proposing new regulations to make certain the Department’s core housing and community development programs protect the housing rights of persons regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
HUD is seeking public comment on a number of proposed areas including:
- Prohibiting lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower’s eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing.
- Making clear that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs. The proposed definition clarifies that otherwise eligible families may not be excluded because one or more members of the family may be an LGBT individual, have an LGBT relationship, or be perceived to be such an individual or in such relationship.
- Prohibiting owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling, whether renter- or owner-occupied.
As Secretary Donovan said when the Department proposed its new rule, “This is a fundamental issue of fairness. We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are available to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based solely on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
John Trasviña is the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity