A federal judge in Washington has blocked US President Donald Trump from banning transgender people from serving in the US military.
District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has filed an injunction blocking the order, ruling that a lawsuit brought by five active soldiers with more than 60 combined years of service was likely to win.
The service members asserted that Trump’s policy violated their rights to due process and equal protection under the law under the US Constitution.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote: “The Court holds that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their Fifth Amendment claim.
“As a form of government action that classifies people based on their gender identity, and disfavours a class of historically persecuted and politically powerless individuals, the President’s directives are subject to a fairly searching form of scrutiny.”
The judge added: “The effect of the Court’s Order is to revert to the status quo with regard to accession and retention that existed before the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum.”
Trump announced in July that he would impose a ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.
Reversing a decision under former president Barack Obama, Trump claimed in a string of tweets that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said: “The US District Court’s temporary halt of the trans military ban is a major step forward in exposing President Trump’s policy as a hate-fuelled attack on some of the bravest Americans who serve and protect our nation.
Today’s victory reflects what a majority of Americans have been saying: that transgender service members should be thanked and not relegated to second-class citizenship.”
The judge, however, tossed out the suit’s challenge to the sex-reassignment surgery directive, saying none of the plaintiffs had shown they would be impacted by that prohibition.