Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organisation, today released its annual list of the “Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality.”

A total of 195 US companies can now use the 2008 “Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality” seal to distinguish their company as a fair-minded employer, among them Google, Apple, Microsoft, Ernest Young, Disney, Yahoo! and IBM.

The seal is given to companies who score a perfect 100% on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index which measures policies and practices implemented to promote fairness and equality in the workplace for GLBT employees.

Yesterday gay equality group Stonewall released its list of the 100 most gay-friendly employers in this country.

“We honour the companies awarded for being the ‘Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality,’” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“Each of these companies is working hard to transform their workplaces and make them safer for millions of employees around the country.

“We can now say that at least 10 million employees are protected on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on the job.”

In November the US House of Representatives passed a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that excluded trans people from protection.

The proposed new law was originally framed to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination, but was amended to remove trans people when it became clear that an unamended ENDA would not pass the House of Representatives.

More than 300 LGBT equality groups joined forces as United ENDA to oppose the new version of the bill, while HRC stood by the LGB-only law.

There were resignations from the board of HRC and the organisation was widely criticised for “selling out” trans people.

Mr Solomonese has defended HRC’s decision to move forward with a version of ENDA that excludes trans people.

“We’re on the brink of a historic step in the right direction toward what we’re all fighting for,” he said before Wednesday’s vote.

“With a bill on the floor, regardless of whether you think it ever should have gotten there or not, I would hope that most people think it’s important for our entire community that the bill pass rather than fail.”

ENDA, which would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or promote a person based on sexual orientation, is now before the Senate. President Bush has made clear he will veto the legislation.

At present 13 US states prohibit LGBT employment discrimination and a further seven outlaw discrimination against gay, bisexual and lesbian people.

To see a complete listing of companies who received the 2008 “Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality” seal and to find an image of the seal visit: www.hrc.org/placestowork.