Obama to expand protections against gender discrimination
In a White House reception to mark LGBTI Pride month, US President Barack Obama has announced plans to expand protections against gender discrimination.
Speaking to an assembled crowd of LGBTI people and advocates, Obama said: "We have laws that say Americans can’t be fired on the basis of the colour of their skin or their religion, or because they have a disability. But every day, millions of Americans go to work worried that they could lose their job -– not because of anything they’ve done but because of who they are. It’s upsetting. It is wrong.
“The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have non-discrimination policies to protect their employees because it's the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent. And I agree. So if Congress won't act, I will.”
It’s not the first time the president has stood up for the rights of LGBTI people in the workplace. In 2009 Obama signed a presidential memorandum stating the federal government shouldn't discriminate against workers for reasons unrelated to their job performance.
While the memorandum didn’t specify LGBTI people it was perceived as offering protection to LGBTI people in the workplace.
In his speech Obama also reiterated his request for Congress to agree to a ban on discrimination for all workers based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Currently the US House of Representatives is stalling Obama's planneed Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA).
"We've got a lot to be proud of, but obviously we can't grow complacent," Obama said. "We've got to defend the progress that we've made. We’ve got to keep on reaching out to LGBT Americans who are vulnerable and alone, and need our support - whether it’s teenagers in rough situations to seniors who are struggling to find housing and care."