Cecilie Johnsen

The Supreme Court of the United States today ruled that the federal civil rights law protects LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination.

The historic 6-3 decision will protect millions of LGBTQ+ workers across the US, and directly opposes the Trump administration’s view that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act should not extend to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

The opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan and Sotomayor.

“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,” Gorsuch wrote in his opinion.

“Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, there are 7.1 million lesbian, gay and bisexual workers in the United States, and 1 million who identity as transgender.

This new decision was welcomed by The Trevor Project, who are the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for young LGBTQ+ people.

“This landmark decision will save lives,” said Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.

“At The Trevor Project, we hear from LGBTQ+ youth every day who suffer from discrimination and harassment, and our research demonstrates that those who experienced LGBTQ+-based workplace discrimination were twice as likely to have attempted suicide in the past year compared to those who did not.


“By recognizing that LGBTQ+ workers cannot be discriminated against because of who they are, the Supreme Court has sent a resounding message to LGBTQ youth everywhere that they are free to pursue their talents and dreams.” 

Amit added: “Today is a historic day and a cause for celebration, but we must also recognize that our fight for lived equality is not yet done,”

“Even with this decision, it is still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in public accommodations and federally funded programs, including programs providing critical support to LGBTQ+ youth in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As of Friday, the Administration is still actively trying to undermine health care protections for transgender and nonbinary Americans. And the ongoing nationwide demonstrations against systemic racism underscore that Black LGBTQ+ people, particularly those who are transgender, face disproportionate violence and discrimination. As long as there is racism, there cannot be LGBTQ+ equality.

“50 years ago, the very first Pride marches were launched in response to police brutality and violence. It’s on us to continue that work and to foster the creation of safe, affirming environments for LGBTQ+ young people — especially queer and trans black young people — everywhere. LGBTQ+ young people deserve nothing less.”

Preliminary data from The Trevor Project’s upcoming 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health found that a third of LGBTQ+ youth and young adults report experiencing LGBTQ+-based discrimination in the workplace.

Human rights organisation OutRight Action International – who work at a global, regional and national level to eradicate the persecution, inequality and violence LGBTQ+ people face around the world – also celebrated the decision.

“The Supreme Court stating explicitly that under the Civil Rights Act discrimination based on sex includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a tremendous victory,” said Executive Director of OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern.

“The decision comes at a time when the Trump administration has been viciously attacking the rights of LGBTIQ people, in particular trans people. It will protect millions of Americans from discrimination in the workplace, and sends a powerful message – that political power-play can not erase basic human rights.

“This judgment will have implications for LGBTIQ people everywhere – governments and movements are inspired by each other, and landmark judgments are quoted by courts across the world. OutRight welcomes, and celebrates this ruling!”