(UPI) — A federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled Monday that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects people from being fired from their jobs for being gay.

The ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says sexual orientation is protected under the 1964 law, which bans discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

“Sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination because sexual orientation is defined by one’s sex in relation to the sex of those to whom one is attracted, making it impossible for an employer to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without taking sex into account,” the court said.

The lawsuit was brought by New York skydiving instructor Donald Zarda against his former employers, Altitude Express. The company fired Zarda in 2010 for telling a female skydiving student he was gay. The woman’s boyfriend overheard the comment and complained to Altitude Express.

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Zarda said he disclosed his sexual orientation because she expressed trepidation about being strapped to him for the skydive.

Zarda died in a BASE jumping accident after he filed the lawsuit.

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