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The struggle for LGBT equality continues, and while there has been some progress in certain areas, like employment, other areas, like housing, have been more resistant to change. As it stands, the federal Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation or gender identity protections. But that doesn't mean landlords are free to discriminate against LGBT tenants.
What it does mean is that asserting your rights as an LGBT tenant may be more difficult. Here's a look at the legal protections in place, as well as legal resources for discrimination claims.
As noted above, sexual orientation or gender identity aren't protected classes under federal equal housing law. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development notes that an LGBT person may still be protected under the law, depending on the type of discrimination that occurs.
For instance, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has done with the Civil Rights Act, HUD has read discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as illegal under protections based on sex. HUD has also implemented policies to curb LGBT discrimination.
In addition, 17 states and the District of Columbia prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and another 4 states prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. While this is woefully short of nationwide protections LGBT people should enjoy, residents in those states should be aware of their rights and exercise them.
If you've already signed a lease and believe you've been discriminated against, you may want to try to talk with the landlord first. If your city or state has anti-discrimination laws, a simple reminder that LGBT discrimination is illegal may be enough.
If not, LGBT tenants may also turn to local housing authorities or HUD for claims of discrimination. And victims of discrimination can also contact their state civil rights offices for more information.
If you've been the victim of housing discrimination based on your sexual orientation or gender identity
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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