By Matthew Lavietes
NEW YORK, March 16 (Openly) - The U.S. government issued a rule on Tuesday that prohibits banks from discriminating against LGBT+ people, in the latest move by Joe Biden's administration to support minority rights.
Discrimination against LGBT+ applicants is illegal, the government's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said in its interpretative ruling on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which became law in 1974 when many women struggled to get loans.
"With respect to any aspect of a credit transaction, the prohibition against sex discrimination ... encompasses sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity discrimination," said the rule, published in the government's Federal Register.
Same-sex couples are 73% more likely to be denied a mortgage than straight couples, according to the National Academy of Sciences, an independent advisory body, which analyzed data from 1990 to 2015.
On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order that federal agencies must not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity when implementing existing federal laws that bar discrimination on the basis of sex.
The bureau is the latest federal agency to back Biden's executive order after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said last month that it would apply the Fair Housing Act, which bans housing discrimination, to LGBT+ individuals.
Both agencies cited the landmark 2020 Supreme Court ruling that extends workplace protections to gay and transgender people - the biggest moment for LGBT rights in the United States since same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015.
The consumer watchdog said its rule on equal access to credit also bans discrimination "based on actual or perceived nonconformity with sex-based or gender-based stereotypes".
It gave as an example if a small business lender "tells the prospective applicant to go home and change because, in the view of the creditor, the small business customer's attire does not accord with the customer's gender".
Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a U.S.-based LGBT+ advocacy group, applauded Biden for his role in ensuring fair access to credit for LGBT+ Americans.
"The Biden administration has made unprecedented and immediate changes to the lives of the 11 million LGBTQ people across the country and we look forward to continuing our work together with the president," David said in a statement.
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(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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