The United States House of Representatives is to consider new legislation that would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or promote a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This is the first time since 1994 that legislation that protects LGB people at work has been brought to the House, and for the first time trans people are to be protected as well.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (ENDA) was introduced by the only openly gay members of Congress, Barney Frank and his fellow Democrat Tammy Baldwin, and two Republicans.

“This is a protection against discrimination that has been tried in a number of states and it has worked extremely well,” Representative Frank said.

“It has caused none of the problems that opponents inaccurately clamed it would and it has provided job protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who ask simply to be allowed do their jobs and be judged on their job performance.”

Currently 17 states have protections for LGB people; eight of those states extend that protection to trans people.

In 1996 similar legislation failed in the Senate by one vote.

87% of the top Fortune 500 companies in the US already provide protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The US military and religious organisations are excluded from the legislation, which also does not force employers to extend benefits to same-sex partners.