In 1991 the Hawaiʻi legislature made it unlawful to discriminate in employment because of a person’s sexual orientation. In 2011, the legislature clarified that sex discrimination in employment includes discrimination based on gender identity or expression. It is illegal for an employer4 or labor organization, based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, to:
refuse to hire, fail to promote or discharge from employment
harass a person or retaliate against that person for complaining about illegal discrimination
print or circulate an advertisement which expresses such limitations, specifications, or discrimination
Example: You cannot be fired for changing your gender identity.
In 2005 the legislature extended protections against sexual orientation discrimination to the state’s fair housing laws. It also clarified that discrimination based on sex includes discrimination based on gender identity or expression. It is illegal for an owner or anyone else engaging in a real estate transaction5, because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression to:
refuse to negotiate or engage in a real estate transaction
represent that a property is not available for inspection, sale, rental or lease when it is in fact available
print, circulate, publish, post or mail an advertisement or use an application for a real estate transaction that has an intent to make a limitation based upon sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Example: A landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because you and your partner are of the same sex.
In 2006 the legislature added sexual orientation to its laws prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodations. It also clarified that sex discrimination in places of public accommodation includes discrimination based on gender identity or expression. It is illegal to deny a person the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Example: You can not be refused service at a restaurant because you are gay or transgendered.
This fact sheet is a general summary of the state’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression laws and does not have the force or effect of administrative rules or Hawai`i laws. If there are any inconsistencies, the rules and Hawai`i law will control.
1 Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (“HRS”) Chapters 378, Part I (Employment), 515 (Housing) and 489 (Public Accommodations).
2 Sexual Orientation is defined as having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality, having a history of any one or more of these preferences, or being identified with any one or more of these preferences.
3 Gender identity or expression includes a person’s actual or perceived gender, as well as a person’s gender identity, gender related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression, regardless of whether that gender identity, gender related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender related expression is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s sex at birth.
5 The statute provides limited exemptions for “tight living” situations and religious institutions. See, HRS § 515-4.