Washington: The top court in the US has ruled that employers who fire workers for being gay or transgender are breaking the country’s civil rights laws.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court said federal law, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, should be understood to include sexual orientation and gender identity the BBC reported.
The ruling is a major win for LGBT workers and their allies.
And it comes even though the court has become more conservative.
Lawyers for the employers had argued that the authors of the 1964 Civil Rights Act had not intended it to apply to cases involving sexual orientation and gender identity. The Trump administration sided with that argument.
But Judge Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated to the court by President Donald Trump, said acting against an employee on those grounds necessarily takes sex into account.
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” he wrote.
Members of the LGBT community across the US were celebrating on hearing the news.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as gender, race, color, national origin and religion.
Under the Obama administration, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the anti-discrimination law, said it included gender identity and sexual orientation. But the Trump administration has moved to roll back some protections in healthcare and other areas.
While some states in the US had already explicitly extended such protections to LGBT workers, many have not.
It’s difficult to overstate the significance of the decision.
While the court is establishing a long history of decisions expanding gay rights, this is the first time it spoke directly about the legal protections for transgender individuals.
That the ruling comes out just days after the Trump administration announced it was removing transgender health-insurance protections only puts the issue in stark relief.
Three conservative justices opposed the ruling: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.
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