Sexual Orientation

The Law

It is illegal to be denied a housing opportunity because of your sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Discrimination based on sexual orientation can also be gender, which includes a person’s gender identity, partnership status, disability (HIV status), or marital status.

Discrimination means being treated differently by any person with the authority to rent, sell, or deal with applicants or residents of a housing accommodation. For example, a building owner or representative (such as a superintendent) is discriminating if they treat you differently because of your actual or perceived sexual orientation, such as asking you about the nature of your relationship during an application process.

These behaviors, policies, or practices could be evidence of discrimination:

  • Being denied an apartment application because the building owner is uncomfortable with your, a partner’s, or family member’s actual or perceived sexual orientation;
  • Being told that renting to you would violate a landlord’s religious practice or beliefs;
  • Being told that all tenants cohabiting must be related by blood or marriage – and that the landlord doesn’t recognize domestic partnerships or ‘gay marriages.’
  • Refusing to renew a lease or put both partners’ names on a lease, give receipts of rent payments, or reducing services such as turning off a unit’s electricity or not making repairs after learning a tenant’s sexual orientation;
  • Being asked questions, such as: “Are you two, like, together?” “Are you gay?” or if you are told, “No homosexuality in my building."

The Law also prohibits retaliation if you file a discrimination complaint against someone, or act as a witness for someone else who files a complaint.

File a Complaint

If you believe you are the victim of housing discrimination, contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights by calling 311 or the Commission Infoline at (718) 722-3131.

Back to Who Is Protected.