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Housing discrimination against LGBTQ+ community persists despite recent legal victories

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Members of the transgender community were particularly affected, with 44 percent saying they experienced or suspected housing discrimination.  Adobe Stock

While June is the month when the LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride, a new report shows housing discrimination against the group remains a major cause of concern. 

The Realtor.com and LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance study polled 1,538 members of the LGBTQ+ community living in the United States on their experiences renting or buying a home. Despite President Joe Biden signing an executive order in January that called for preventing discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, housing discrimination continues to affect LGBTQ+ groups. 

Seventeen percent of respondents in the survey said they were discriminated against when trying to find a home. An additional 12 percent suspected they had been discriminated against. 

“It is not surprising that significant discrimination against LGBT people persists in the country,” said Ben Klein, senior staff attorney at the LGBTQ+ legal advocacy and defense organization GLAD. “There is this sort of misperception that marriage equality somehow eliminated discrimination against LGBT people. We know that LGBT people, and especially transgender people, are still devalued and marginalized.”

For those who faced discrimination, 68 percent said it was because of their sexual orientation, 33 percent said it was due to their race or ethnicity, and 25 percent said it was because of their gender or gender identity. Members of the transgender community were particularly affected, with 44 percent saying they experienced or suspected housing discrimination. 

“Homelessness is, unfortunately, a definitive part of the trans experience for many people in this country right now,” said KB Kinkel, the communications board member at Trans Resistance MA. “What we’re hearing about more than discrimination is just this question of having access to housing at all.”

The report is a fresh reminder there is a need for more state-level protections for LGBTQ+ people against discrimination, Klein added. While every New England state has anti-discrimination laws, there are 20 states without these protections.

There are even federal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals that some may not realize they can lean on. The 2020 Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Department of Housing and Urban Development then announced in February it would begin to enforce the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to prohibit discrimination toward LGBTQ+ people

“The lack of legal protections at the state level and lack of awareness that federal law has actually been interpreted to prohibit discrimination in housing on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are such big factors in why we’re still seeing discrimination in the housing industry,” Klein said. 

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