LGBT Protections under the Federal Fair Housing Act
In certain circumstances, an LGBT person’s experience with housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity may be protected by the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of one or more of the protected classes. For instance, the Fair Housing Act protects against housing discrimination on the basis of sex, meaning that an individual has been treated differently based on the fact they are male or female. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has interpreted the protections on the basis of sex to extend to individuals who are subjected to housing discrimination due to non-conformity with gender norms or stereotypes.
Example: If a female prospective tenant is denied by a landlord because she wears masculine clothes and engages in other physical expressions that are stereotypically male, then she might be able to bring a claim under the Fair Housing Act alleging discrimination based on sex.
Additionally, the Fair Housing Act protects against housing discrimination on the basis of disability. This protection not only applies to individuals with disabilities, but also to people who are regarded by others to have a disability whether or not they in fact have a disability.
Example: If a man is being evicted because he is gay and his landlord believes he will infect other tenants with HIV/AIDS, then the allegation of discrimination may be brought under the Fair Housing Act based on disability because the man is regarded as having a disability, HIV/AIDS.