Wal-Mart, the biggest private employer in the US has been given a “do not buy” rating in a new gay consumer guide.

Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights group in America, made its announcement, in time for the festive season, due to the company’s refusal to give domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian workers.

The 2008 Corporate Quality index rated Wal-Mart, along with other retail giants including Toys R Us and Auto Zone, in the red category, advising gays and their supporters to shop elsewhere.

It was a fall of 25 points to 40 from last years guide.

Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar told USA Today: “We’re proud of our diversity initiatives and we think we are taking the right steps.”

He would not “speculate” on whether the rating would hurt holiday sales.

It is not the first time Wal-Mart has landed itself in hot water around LGBT issues.

Earlier this year it withdrew its membership of the National Lesbian and Gay Chamber of Commerce citing a new policy not to support “contraversial” issues.

Paul Blank, Campaign Director of WakeUpWalMart.com, an action group protesting about what they see as Wal-Mart’s erosion of American worker’s rights, said at the time:

“Wal-Mart should be ashamed that it would define its support for the GLBT community as “highly controversial.”

“While it ignores its explicit support for right-wing George Bush-style Republicans whose policies have cost America middle class jobs, worsened our health care system, helped poison our environment, and blindly support failed strategies in Iraq.”

Last year the Corporate Quality index was downloaded from HRC’s website more than a quarter of a million times.