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'We must never come close to having anything like Whites Only signs again'

Apple CEO Tim Cook has hit out at religious freedom laws.

Apple CEO-Philanthropy Source: AP/Press Association Images

APPLE BOSS TIM Cook has slammed the rise of religious freedom laws in the United States, which allows business-owners to refuse certain customers service based on religious grounds.

He believes not only will they damage jobs and growth, but “have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality”.

Writing in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post, Cook called the laws “dangerous”.

The legislation was passed by the US state of Indiana earlier this and has sparked fears it could lead to widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Supporters of the law say discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds, The Associated Press reports.

Arkansas is now poised to follow in Indiana’s footsteps.

“These bills rationalise injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear,” Cook wrote.

“They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”

I have great reverence for religious freedom. As a child, I was baptised in a Baptist church, and faith has always been an important part of my life. I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate.

Cook stressed that the issue ‘isn’t political or religious’, but “about how we treat each other as human beings.”

The days of segregation and discrimination marked by “Whites Only” signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past. We must never return to any semblance of that time.

Earlier this month a printing company in Drogheda refused to design invitations for a same-sex marriage because of the owner’s religious beliefs.

Beulah Print defended the move, saying they are “Bible-believing Christians who are committed to standing by our conscience and God’s Word”.

Read: Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out, says he is ‘proud to be gay’ >

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Nicky Ryan

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