The US Supreme Court has ruled that gay and transgender employees are protected by the country’s civil rights laws against employer discrimination.
The 6-3 ruling came on Monday after a trio of cases had asked the US Justices to decide whether Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination on the basis of “sex”, applies to gay and transgender people, reports Xinhua news agency.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote the opinion for the six-member majority, said that “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”.
“Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” Gorsuch added.
“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.
Gorsuch was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor.
Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision.
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, colour, national origin and religion, the BBC reported.
Under former President Barack Obama’s administration, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the anti-discrimination law, said it included gender identity and sexual orientation.
But the incumbent President Donald Trump’s 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.
LGBT advocates hailed the decision as the end of people hiding their sexuality at work.