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The Fair and Equal Housing Act would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people face significant levels of discrimination in housing, which can take a variety of forms. LGBTQ people are at risk of being denied, charged higher rates for, or removed from housing. Currently, there is no federal law that consistently protects LGBTQ individuals from housing discrimination.
A 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development showed that same-sex couples experience significant levels of discrimination when responding to advertised rental housing in metropolitan areas nationwide. In this study, heterosexual couples were favored over same-sex couples by sixteen percent. For transgender people, housing discrimination is even more prevalent. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, nearly one quarter of transgender people report having experienced housing discrimination within the past year because of their gender identity.
The Fair and Equal Housing Act would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act, which currently prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. The Fair and Equal Housing Act also clarifies existing law to ensure that housing protections apply to anyone who experiences discrimination because they are perceived as or associate with someone of a different race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, familial status, or national origin.
As of December 2018, only 21 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination in housing based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Another state, Wisconsin, bans discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation only.
The bipartisan Fair and Equal Housing Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Susan Brooks (R-IN) on May 20, 2019 and in the Senate by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) on April 30, 2019.