07/01/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued new guidelines regarding housing discrimination complaints. Transpeople will benefit the most from these new guidelines because they will now be treated under gender discrimination with regards to filing complaints under the Fair Housing Act. HUD staff are also instructed to inform anyone filing a complaint about state and local agencies that may also handle LGBT based complaints and who have non-discrimination laws with regards to the LGBT Community.
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan made the announcement during his department’s Pride Month Celebration.
Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasviña stated with regards to this “Our job to prevent and combat housing discrimination is not complete without addressing 21st Century issues. Our fair housing staff will work with state and local civil rights agencies to investigate and refer discrimination cases and work to combat all aspects of gender discrimination.”
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales and lending on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability and familial status. There have been pushes to expand this to include gender identification and sexual orientation. The inclusion of gender identification under gender circumvents this, and is something that the Supreme Court has upheld in the past. Because the FHA does not cover sexual orientation directly, HUD employees will work with residents of the twenty states and DC, as well as the additional sixty towns, cities and counties with LGBT inclusive laws to make sure that such discrimination is redressed.
According to the press release, however, there are a few areas where they can redress the discrimination against LGBT Amiercans.
“For example, if a man alleges that he is being evicted because he is gay and his landlord believes he will infect other tenants with HIV, then the allegation of discrimination may be jurisdictional under the Fair Housing Act based on disability because the man is regarded as having a disability, HIV/AIDS. Similarly, if a female prospective tenant is alleging discrimination by a landlord because she wears masculine clothes and engages in other physical expressions that are stereotypically male, then the allegations may be jurisdictional under the Act as discrimination based on gender.”