Feds Ready New LGBT Protection

Federal officials Thursday unveiled new pending regulations that offer more protection from discrimination for LGBT individuals in regard to housing and mortgage issues.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the proposed regulatory changes that explicitly protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people under certain circumstances.—-

Under the proposed rules, owners or landlords of housing that is either HUD-assisted or HUD-insured would be prohibited from asking an applicant about sexual orientation or gender identity. Also, they would prevent lenders of a mortgage insured by HUD from discriminating based on the real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of applicants; and make clear that participation in HUD-supported housing programs like the Section 8 voucher program is available to LGBT families who meet other qualification requirements.

The changes, which likely will be implemented soon, were the result of work by the New Beginning Initiative. The group is a coalition of 26 organizations — including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force — the works to bring about changes for LGBT people such as the 2010 U.S. Census reporting same-sex marriages, along with gender-marker changes on new passports.

"We've heard painful stories over the years from lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people who were discriminated against when trying to secure a home,” said Rea Carey, the task force's executive director, in a prepared statement.

“These reforms will go a long way toward ending an injustice that has had such a profound and far-reaching negative impact on people's lives,” Carey added. “What this means for our community is greater access to and protections for safe and secure housing.”

In a national survey on transgender equality that will be released next month, the task force found 19 percent of respondents reported being denied an apartment or home because of their gender identity. Also, 19 percent reported being homeless at some point in their lives.