HUD Seeks Ban on Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity
January 2011: Earlier this month, HUD proposed new regulations aimed at prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in its core housing programs.
“This is a fundamental issue of fairness,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The proposed rules would clarify that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs. In the majority of HUD’s rental and homeownership programs, the term “family” already has a broad scope, and includes a single person and families with or without children. HUD’s proposed rule clarifies that families, otherwise eligible for HUD programs, may not be excluded because one or more members of the family may be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) individual, have an LGBT relationship, or be perceived to be such an individual or in such a relationship.
In addition, the proposed rules would prohibit owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling, whether renter- or owner-occupied. HUD proposes to institute this policy in its rental assistance and homeownership programs, including public and assisted housing programs, community development programs, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance programs.
The proposed rules also would bar lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower’s eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing.
Interested parties have until March 25, 2011, to submit comments on the proposed regulations, which are available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=LGBTPR.PDF.