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Fair Housing & LGBTQIA+ Communities: Know Your Rights!

Posted on 30. Jun, 2017 by

Many people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA+) don’t realize that they have the legal right to fair housing access. It’s true that the federal Fair Housing Act only explicitly outlaws discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status and does not directly include sexual orientation or gender identity. However, in many cases, there are still protections for queer and trans people in place. Let’s look at some examples:

  1. If the housing in question is federally funded, HUD’s LGBT Rule, which protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, applies. This includes public housing, housing rented using a Housing Choice (or Section 8) Voucher, FHA mortgages, and lots of other programs. The LGBT rule is not an amendment to the Fair Housing Act, and does not apply to most private housing. Learn more about the HUD LGBT Rule here.
  2. In many cases, discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is also sex discrimination, which is against the law. In April 2017, a US district judge ruled that a landlord’s refusal to rent to a lesbian couple was against the law, because the women were being discriminated against for not conforming with sex stereotypes (read more here). Courts are increasingly ruling that discrimination based on the gender identity of transgender people also constitutes illegal sex discrimination. To read more about housing rights for transgender people, click here.
  3. State and local laws may provide further fair housing protections for LGBTQIA people. Twenty states, plus Washington D.C. and many cities, have non-discrimination housing laws that protect against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Louisiana does not have those protections statewide, but Orleans Parish does. To see the full list and map, click here.
  4. Queer and trans people often face discrimination based on multiple identities at once. For example, a Black queer person may be denied housing based on both sexual orientation and race in a way that a white queer person might not, or a transgender person with a disability might not be given the same access to an apartment that an transgender person without a disability is given. These would be examples of race-based or disability-based housing discrimination, and they are against federal law.

Do you think you may have been discriminated against based on your gender identity, sexual orientation, or something else about you?  Discrimination can be subtle, but if you think you’ve been treated unfairly, call the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center at (504) 596-2100.  Help is free and confidential.


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