Protecting the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Individuals

Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division

rainbow stripes

Department of Justice seal

“From the efforts of the Department's Civil Rights Division to enforce key protections like the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; to our Administration-wide commitment to stopping harassment, bullying, and abusive behavior directed at young people – together, we’re striving to support and safeguard those who are victimized just because of who they are or who they love.”

-- Attorney General
Eric Holder,
LGBT Pride Month Celebration,
June 10, 2014


Fighting Discrimination

The Division enforces a number of laws that prohibit various forms of discrimination in areas covering education, employment, housing, police practices, and other Department-funded programs.  Although these laws do not explicitly refer to sexual orientation or gender identity, they prohibit sex discrimination, which protects all people (including LGBTI people) from gender-based discrimination, including discrimination based on a person's nonconformity with stereotypes associated with that person's real or perceived gender.


The Division enforces Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of sex (among other factors) in public schools, colleges, and universities.  The Division, in partnership with the Department of Education, also enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs and activities.  Both laws prohibit discrimination, including harassment, based on gender identity, transgender status, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes.


The Division enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against public employers.  Title VII prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex (among other factors), including gender identity, transgender status, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, with respect to recruitment, hiring, assignments and promotions, and pay and benefits.  It also prohibits gender-based harassment and retaliation for complaining about discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates employment discrimination.  To file a complaint, contact the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000 or 1-800-669-6820 (TTY). 


The Division enforces the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibit discrimination, including sex discrimination, in the sale or rental of housing and in other residential real-estate transactions.  To file a housing discrimination complaint, contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 1-800-669-9777 or 1-800-927-9275 (TTY).  To file a lending discrimination complaint, call 1-855-411-2372 or 1-855-729-2372 (TTY), or visit the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau's website at

Police Practices

The Division enforces laws that prohibit discrimination and other misconduct by police.  Prohibited practices include, among other things, anti-LGBTI harassment or abuse by police officers and bias in police investigations, including the failure or refusal to investigate certain kinds of crimes or to respond to complaints by LGBTI victims.

Defending the Constitutional Rights of People in Institutions

The Division has authority under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act to remedy a pattern or practice that deprives people of their constitutional rights in state or local jails and prisons, juvenile detention centers, and other institutions.  Examples of constitutional violations include the failure of prison officials to protect LGBTI inmates from violence, the denial of certain kinds of medical treatment to individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria (formerly referred to as Gender Identity Disorder or GID), and unjustified segregation of LGBTI individuals.

Prosecuting Hate Crimes

The Division enforces the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which criminalizes acts of violence that cause bodily injury (and attempts to do so with a dangerous weapon) when motivated by a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability (including HIV/AIDS).  To report a hate crime, contact your local Federal Bureau of Investigation field office, which can be found at

Protecting the Rights of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS

The Division enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities, including persons with HIV/AIDS (either symptomatic or asymptomatic), in public accommodations (i.e. private providers of goods and services to the public), employment, transportation, and state and local government services.  These protections ensure that those with HIV/AIDS live free from stigma and discrimination.  For more information or to file a complaint, visit

Information About the LGBTI Working Group

The Division's LGBTI Working Group advises the Division's leadership on legal and policy issues relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, and discrimination based on HIV/AIDS.  The group explores how existing civil rights laws might address discrimination experienced by LGBTI individuals and identifies appropriate matters and cases for the Division.  The group provides technical and outreach assistance to other Department components, to other federal agencies, and to relevant stakeholders.  Finally, the group assists the Department with various diversity and education initiatives. 

Contact Information and Additional Resources

To contact the Division's LGBTI Working Group, or to report acts of violence or discrimination described in this brochure, send an email to the Division at or visit You also may file complaints with the other agencies mentioned in this brochure that have responsibility for investigating particular claims.  For more information, case documents, news, and other resources, including a copy of this brochure, please visit

Revised 03/2015