Housing discrimination by zodiac sign?

Reports have emerged of home services being denied based on astrology, and there doesn't appear to be any legal way to stop it in the US or Canada

Astrology has seen a modern revival, buoyed by the internet. But now it’s apparently being used as a way to deny housing based on conflicting zodiac signs.

Earlier this week, a Twitter user published a public screenshot from a private Facebook group for LGBTQ residents in Portland, Oregon, trying to find like-minded roommates.

The message in question was a response to someone looking for roommates, who says that she doesn’t think she could live with a Capricorn because “our main goal is to keep things egalitarian, without anyone being “in charge” or “dominating” the household.” (According to astrological theory, Capricorns, or people born between December 22 and January 19, are sometimes seen as dominating and condescending.)

Screenshot of zodiac tweet

Credit: Riley Owen/Twitter

The post has since gone viral and been reposted in other LGBTQ housing groups. A Facebook user from Montreal published a post saying that she’s seen this type of behavior in their own group.

“Stop asking potential roommates their astrological sign,” an unidentified user writes in a post that was first uncovered by The Guardian journalist Kari Paul. “It’s ableist and extremely discriminatory. Stars don’t make a personality in any shape or form.”

While most discrimination laws apply only to landlords and brokers rather than people seeking roommates for themselves, any tenant would have a difficult time making a discrimination case due to their astrological sign, said Dr. David Wachsmuth, a McGill University urban planning professor and Canadian housing law expert.

“Different provinces have slightly different versions of this, but, e.g., in Ontario, I believe the situation would be the same [as in Quebec], since the list of prohibited grounds also does not include anything about zodiac signs,” Wachsmuth told Inman. While a person could potentially argue that their astrological sign is part of their religion (a protected class), such a case would likely be murky and hard to prove in court.

In the U.S., the Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination against seven protected categories: race or color, religion, national origin, familial status or age, disability or handicap, and sex. Rigel C. Oliveri, a University of Missouri professor specializing in fair housing law, went so far as to say that saying no to tenants or roommates who’s sign doesn’t vibe “does appear to be legal.”

“Zodiac sign is not on the list, which means a landlord could use that to discriminate,” Oliveri told Inman.

That said, some are still speaking out by saying that choosing people based on zodiac signs isn’t fair. And imploring people who turn down roommates because their “auras don’t vibe” to reconsider.

“Zodiac-shaming — the practice of treating someone differently and punitively because of their astrological sign — isn’t a total joke,” Heather Dockray wrote for Mashable, after describing an experience in which her partner was turned down on an apartment screening after revealing she was a Pisces.  “You never know when someone will judge you for your cosmic family tree.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko