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US state of Mississippi passes law making it legal to refuse service to gay couples

The state’s governor says it would protect religious beliefs.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE GOVERNOR OF Mississippi Phil Bryant has signed into law a bill which makes it legal for businesses to refuse service to gay couples.

Bryant said that House Bill 1523 would protect “sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals” from the government. He said that the bill reinforced America’s first amendment, which protects freedom of religious expression.

Bryant said that the bill doesn’t limit a citizen’s constitutional rights or challenge federal laws, saying that it merely protected people from government over-reach.

The enactment has been met with anger in the LGBT community, with LGBT advocacy group GLAAD calling the law “regressive”.

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD said:

Governor Bryant has put the people and the economy of Mississippi at risk and damaged his state’s reputation by signing this regressive anti-LGBT bill into law.

If Governor Bryant listened to the stories of Mississippians fired from jobs, refused service, and shunned from their families, then perhaps he might have a sense of why bills like HB 1523 devastate LGBT people and their families.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said that the law made the state the first to “codify discrimination based on a religious belief or moral conviction that members of the LGBTQ community do not matter”.

This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are.

“This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone’s religious liberty.”

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