HUD to Enforce Fair Housing Act to Prohibit Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

By Kim Shindle | Feb. 12, 2021 | 2 min. read

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced yesterday that it will enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

HUD’s move, based on the Supreme Court’s reasoning from last June’s Bostock v Clayton County decision, effectively expands civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans seeking housing and housing-related services. The decision follows an executive order from the Biden administration directing federal agencies to implement the Supreme Court’s interpretation in all federal civil rights activities.

Charlie Oppler
Charlie Oppler

The National Association of Realtors® applauded HUD’s announcement.

“NAR has long championed LGBTQ rights in the housing market, first calling for expanded protections in 2011,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler. “There are few greater human needs than housing, and to exclude LGBTQ individuals from the protections afforded to other Americans is cruel. This is a just and historic decision by HUD.”

Since 2011, NAR’s Code of Ethics obligates Realtors® to provide equal professional service without discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2013, that obligation was extended to include gender identity. NAR opposes discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin.

Christopher Raad
Christopher Raad

“Realtors® have a duty and obligation to provide equal service to everyone searching for housing,” said PAR President Christopher Raad. “Our Code of Ethics addresses how we treat all of our clients and I believe our organization is stronger when we encourage a culture where diversity and inclusion are part of our association’s values.”

The significance of this action is underscored by several housing discrimination studies which indicate that same-sex couples and transgender persons in communities across the country experience demonstrably less favorable treatment than their straight and cisgender counterparts when seeking rental housing. Despite this reality, the department has been constrained in its efforts to address housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by legal uncertainty about whether most such discrimination was within HUD’s reach.

State and local jurisdictions funded by HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program that enforce the Fair Housing Act through their HUD-certified substantially equivalent laws will be required to administer those laws to prohibit discrimination because of gender identity and sexual orientation.

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