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Fed Housing Protections Against LGBTQ Discrimination Could Change


Wednesday, November 9, 2022   

The Biden administration banned housing discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation and gender identity, but the gain in protections for the LGBTQ community could be tenuous.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order last year, directing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to prohibit discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.

Pam Bean, executive director of Montana Fair Housing, noted the protections were not put into place permanently under the law.

"It was done through executive order, so that can be changed very easily with the next round of elections and who becomes president," Bean pointed out.

Political rhetoric attacking the LGBTQ community ramped up in the lead-up to the midterm elections. In an assessment of the state's policies toward the community, the Movement Advancement Project rates Montana "low."

Bean observed discrimination toward LGBTQ people is still prevalent in the housing realm. She used the example of putting up decorations for the holidays, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, which is not something a landlord typically receives a complaint about. But it is not always the case for someone who puts up a rainbow flag, for instance.

"Should someone display materials or decorations that involve sexual orientation and/or gender identity support or affiliation, suddenly they start experiencing corrective action notices, up to eviction," Bean noted.

Bean added discrimination has likely been rising as LGBTQ community members have felt more comfortable expressing themselves.

"There has been an increase," Bean reported. "And the increase has occurred because people are more open about their belief system than 'staying in the closet' that has had to occur historically."

Bean emphasized people who believe they have experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity can reach out to Montana Fair Housing or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Disclosure: Montana Fair Housing contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Disabilities, Housing/Homelessness, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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