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LGBTQ Discrimination in Florida


Can a private business in Florida discriminate against a couple simply because they are gay? That is a question that arose recently when a gay couple were refused a couples massage at a Florida spa by the manager, who emphatically claimed that the refusal was not due to discrimination, but simply because couples massages were limited to “opposite-sex partners.” The manager also explained it as a “cultural misunderstanding” because, where he comes from, “a couple means a man and a woman.”

The Law in Florida

When it comes to state laws barring discrimination, unfortunately, Florida still lacks any statutory language that explicitly states that it is illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals—both in terms of discrimination based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation. However, there are a number of cities and counties that have taken it upon themselves to pass ordinances prohibiting this kind of discrimination, including:Alachua;

  • Atlantic Beach;
  • Broward;
  • Boynton Beach;
  • Delray Beach;
  • Duval;
  • Dunedin;
  • Gainesville;
  • Greenacres;
  • Gulfport;
  • Haverhill;
  • Hillsborough;
  • Jacksonville;
  • Key West;
  • Lake Clarke Shores;
  • Lake Worth;
  • Largo;
  • Leesburg;
  • Leon;
  • Mascotte;
  • Miami-Dade;
  • Miami;
  • Miami Beach;
  • Monroe;
  • Mount Dora;
  • Neptune Beach;
  • North Port;
  • Oakland Park;
  • Orange;
  • Orlando;
  • Osceola;
  • Palm Beach;
  • Pembroke Pines;
  • Pinellas;
  • Sarasota;
  • Augustine Beach;
  • Petersburg;
  • Tallahassee;
  • Tampa;
  • Tequesta;
  • Venice;
  • Volusia;
  • West Palm Beach;
  • Wellington; and
  • Wilton Manors.

Each locality has its own local procedural rules that must be complied with if your rights have been violated and you are seeking a remedy under the law. In addition, there is currently a bill before the Florida state legislature that would add both gender identity and sexual orientation to the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission & Court Decisions

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also taken the position that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination that is covered by federal civil rights laws. Still, the courts have been all over the map in terms of decisions involving whether Title VII covers sexual orientation discrimination, as well as how far the Florida Civil Rights Act goes in terms of prohibiting “discrimination on the basis of sex,” and therefore how “sex” should be defined.  For example, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that pregnancy discrimination falls under the purview of sex discrimination under the Act, and the Act has, since, been amended to include pregnant women as a protected class under the law.

Contact Our Florida Civil Rights Attorneys

If you live in Orlando and have been discriminated against, contact our experienced civil rights lawyers at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.


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