A bill has been introduced in the US state of Arizona which would allow “license to discriminate” against LGBT people, if there was a religious motivation.
Arizona State Representative Steven Yarbrough introduced Senate Bill 1062, which would allow a blanket “license to discriminate”, against anyone, including LGBT people, if there was religious motivation to do so.
Yarbrough noted a case in New Mexico in which a wedding photographer was found guilty of discrimination for refusing to photograph a gay couples’ wedding, saying that was what he wanted to be able to avoid.
Critics of the bill have noticed that its terms are so broad it could potentially be used to defend any form of discrimination which would otherwise be protected under law, including gender.
Some have even said that the bill could allow religion to justify breaking any law in Arizona.
He has admitted that it could be used not only to discriminate against gay people, but to unmarried women or people with different religious beliefs, but said that he trusts that protections traditionally recognised before, would continue to be protected.
Backing up the bill in the face of criticism, Yarbrough claimed that discrimination does not infringe on human rights if the services in question are available to be accessed elsewhere.
As an example, a hotel could refuse a room to a gay person under the law, on the understanding that there were other hotels in that town.
He compared it to pharmacists protected from dispensing contraceptive pills based on religious beliefs.
“If he’s the only pharmacy in Bisbee, you may have a problem,” he said, going on to say that “if there are two more down the road and Target does this and there’s no issue, and he knows that you can go there.”
“And, of course, if he’s at all smart, is probably going to say, ‘And by the way, two blocks down the road is a Target and they have a pharmacy,’” Yarbrough continued.