The LGBTQ community has faced discrimination and marginalization for decades, particularly in the area of housing.
Discrimination in the housing market can take many forms, including refusal to rent or sell to LGBTQ individuals or couples, discriminatory loan practices, and harassment from landlords or neighbors.
Fortunately, in recent years, there has been progress in enacting laws and policies to protect the LGBTQ community from housing discrimination.
Here are some of the most important laws that protect the LGBTQ community in home buying:
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
In 2021, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it would interpret the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as well.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act is a federal law that prohibits lenders from discriminating against borrowers based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or whether they receive public assistance.
In 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interpretive rule stating that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
State and local laws
In addition to federal laws, many states and localities have passed their own laws protecting the LGBTQ community from housing discrimination.
As one example, D.C. has been a leader in enacting laws to protect the LGBTQ community from housing discrimination. Here are some of the most important laws in D.C. that protect LGBTQ homebuyers and renters:
Human Rights Act
The D.C. Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, disability, matriculation, or political affiliation.
D.C. housing regulations prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes discrimination in advertising, leasing, terms and conditions, and termination of tenancy.
Domestic Partnership Equality Amendment Act
The Domestic Partnership Equality Amendment Act grants same-sex couples in D.C. the same rights and responsibilities as married couples, including the ability to jointly own property and make decisions related to property ownership.
LGBTQ Cultural Competency Training
The D.C. Office of Human Rights provides cultural competency training to housing providers and real estate professionals to help them better understand the needs and concerns of LGBTQ individuals and families.
LGBTQ+ Affairs Office
The Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs in D.C. provides resources and support to LGBTQ individuals and families in the District, including assistance with housing discrimination complaints.
In addition to these laws and programs, the D.C. government has also established a Human Rights Commission to investigate and enforce discrimination complaints. The commission can impose fines, order damages, and require changes in discriminatory policies and practices.
Similar laws are in place in many of the major cities across the United States.
Department of Veterans Affairs policies
The Department of Veterans Affairs has implemented policies to ensure that LGBTQ veterans and their families have equal access to VA benefits and services.
The VA prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in its programs and activities, and it has implemented training programs to educate staff on LGBTQ issues.
While these laws and policies are important steps toward protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination in home buying, more work needs to be done to ensure that all members of the community are treated fairly and with respect.
For more than 25 years GayRealEstate.com has been fighting for equality in housing and all areas affecting our LGBTQ community with its continued monthly financial support of more than 21 national LGBTQ non-profits.
It is important for homebuyers to know their rights and to report any instances of discrimination to the appropriate authorities – a great way to prevent discrimination is to work with a trusted LGBTQ+ real estate professional at GayRealEstate.com.
(For more than 25 years, Jeff Hammerberg has been a prolific writer, coach, and author who has helped advance the cause of fair, honest, and equitable representation for all members of the LGBTQ community in real estate matters. GayRealEstate.com, which he established, is the largest and longest-running gay real estate agent referral service in the nation, boasting more than 3,500 LGBTQ Realtors who operate in cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico.)
Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].