The Donald Trump administration has issued a brief saying the US Civil Rights Act should not be used to stop employers discriminating against LBGT people. The brief came just hours after the President banned transgender people serving in the armed forces.

The 23-page brief claimed that Title VII of the 1964 Act, which bans discrimination on the grounds of gender, should not be interpreted to include discrimination based on sexual orientation. “The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination,” the brief said. “It does not, as has been settled for decades.”

It continues: “As the courts have long held, discrimination based on sexual orientation does not fall within Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination because it does not involve disparate treatment of men and women.”

The brief was issued by Trump’s acting assistant attorney general in relation to a case from 2010 in which a man named Donald Zarda claimed he had been fired because of his sexual orientation after disclosing it to a customer.

The interpretation of the law has always been unclear, especially in relation to gay people. The brief seemed to question the idea that the act covers discrimination against transgender people, which was surprising because it has been widely accepted by law courts that it does. The US Equality Employment Opportunity Commission says the act should be interpreted to include sexual orientation, however the Department of Justice insists it should not.

Regarding the decision to ban transgender soldiers from the armed forces, the US President said: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

The widely criticised decision will overturn a ruling by Barack Obama that transgender people should be allowed to openly serve in the military. The White House is yet to make it clear what will happen to transgender soldiers currently serving.