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Tampa, Florida -- The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners approved a motion Wednesday authorizing the County Attorney's Office to prepare an amendment prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identification in connection with employment, public accommodations, real estate transactions and County contracting and procurement.

The amendment will provide equal treatment to residents and workers in Hillsborough County, but protections do not apply to those that live or work outside of the county.

The motion was introduced by Commissioner Kevin Beckner and approved 7-0.

The Hillsborough County Human Rights Ordinance was first passed in 1988. It currently includes protections against discrimination because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, disability and marital status. The inclusion of sexual orientation among the protected classes was proposed or considered in 1989, 1991, 1995 and 2000.

Currently, eight other Florida counties and 17 cities, including Tampa, prohibit employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification.

Nationally, 21 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and 16 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Hillsborough commissioners approved an ordinance that prohibits discrimination on sexual orientation in employment, accommodations, real estate transactions and contracting and procurement.

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