In a reversal from the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Thursday announced that it will administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination LGBTQ people.
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) issued a memorandum stating that HUD interprets the Fair Housing Act to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and directing HUD offices and recipients of HUD funds to enforce the Act accordingly.
“Housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity demands urgent enforcement action,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of FHEO Jeanine M. Worden. “That is why HUD, under the Biden Administration, will fully enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Under the Trump administration and HUD Secretary Ben Carson, the department had refused to enforce LGBTQ protections and had actually been working to remove what protections existed.
The announcement was welcomed by LGBTQ advocates and allies.
“Lambda Legal applauds this step by the Biden Administration to make the promise of equal housing opportunity real for LGBTQ people across the country,” said Karen Loewy, senior counsel and senior strategist at Lambda Legal. “As our housing work has demonstrated and the Bostock decision confirmed, the harassment and discrimination that LGBTQ people face in housing are forms of sex discrimination that federal law will not tolerate. These actions by HUD will both prevent future discrimination and ensure that those who have experienced discrimination have a clear avenue for relief.”
“For the past four years, I have fought alongside LGBTQ and housing activists against a Trump-Carson HUD that was committed to enabling discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry. Today’s announcement, in the first weeks of the Biden administration, is a declaration that LGBTQ rights are human rights and that housing discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation is unacceptable and should be relegated to the shameful past,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago).