Milwaukee County in Wisconsin has banned discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and expression.

Wisconsin already bans discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, but offers no protection based on gender identity.

According to the Journal-Sentinel, the measure was adopted by a 12-6 vote with the county’s board, despite ‘scaremongering’ that it could be used to help sex offenders.

Supervisor David Bowen rubbished those claims, saying: “I understand there are people in the community who have been misdirected intentionally by right-wing sources.

County Executive Chris Abele said: “Not only is adopting such an ordinance the right thing to do, but ensuring protections for all people adds to the economy of Milwaukee County.

Local LGBT group Fair Wisconsin advocated for the change.

They wrote last Thursday: “Milwaukee County Board just passed gender identity protections in the county’s nondiscrimination law! Big thanks to [Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic].”

The change was sought by Fair Wisconsin, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Wisconsin has recognised same-sex civil unions since 2009.

The state has a constitutional same-sex marriage ban, which is currently the subject of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.