Obama’s Executive Order outlawing workplace discriminiaton comes into effect

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama that outlaws anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors has come into effect.

The US President signed an executive order on the issue last summer, after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refused to pass the now-dead Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which contained broader protections.

The order prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by all federal contractors – though it contains a number of limitations that would not have applied to legislation passed by Congress.

Firstly, it does not apply to workers who are not federal contractors – leaving the majority of LGBT people in the private sector without protections. It could also be revoked by a future President who opposes gay rights.

US Secretary of Labour Tom Perez said: “Because of this Executive Order, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people employed by federal contractors across the country will now receive new legal protections designed to ensure they are judged by the quality of their work, not who they are or whom they love.

The Human Rights Campaign said in a statement: “The order is an important mile marker on the path toward LGBT workplace equality.

“Widely considered a civil rights victory, it is designed to ensure that LGBT individuals are judged not by who they are or whom they love, but by the quality of their work.

“This will have the effect of creating a more dynamic and inclusive workforce that captures the talents and abilities of the LGBT community.

“Each year, federal contractors and subcontractors are given billions of taxpayer dollars to supply goods, provide services and perform construction work for government agencies.

“In return, they are held to the reasonable standard that they may not discriminate in hiring, firing, pay, promotion and other employment practices.

“Until today, the protected categories only included race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and status as a protected veteran.

“Now, in the first expansion since 1974, LGBT Americans can fully enjoy these same protections.”